Sunday, August 30, 2015

Mahmoud Guinia - Soirée au Canada

Hello friends - I meant to have this up a few weeks ago, but have become caught in some writer's cramp. Rather than wait for the cramp to uncramp, I'll just share this now, without my usual ramblings. It's a live recording from a concert by the late, great Gnawi mâllem Mahmoud Guinia. Palm Wine posted a (now deleted) version of this tape a few years ago and said it was obtained in Morocco in 1978. That would seem to make it quite early in the discography (tape-ography?)

This is a different sort of live album than his Fikriphone debut, which was recorded live at a lila ceremony. Audience-performer interaction and expectations are quite different at this sit-down concert in Canada. (The announcements at the end of track 1 seem to indicate that it's some sort of folk festival or concert series.) Despite the lack of trancers (as far as I can tell), Mâllem Mahmoud delivers the goods, providing some excellent riffing during these long tunes for the assembled audience.

Yala features a shorter version of this album here. Yala's version removes a couple of warts in the performance, namely the falling down of the guinbri's bridge at the end of track 2 (the track is missing altogether) and again at the end of track 3 (the track fades out).

I've edited down track 7, which originally included a couple minutes of the same music copied and spliced to extend its length. If you want the original "extended remix", Yala's got it here.

El Maalem Mahmoud Gania - Soiree Au Canada (La Voix El Maarif 393)
01) Sheshiyat Bambara (v1)
02) Sheshiyat Bambara (v2)
03) Fulani ya Baba ya Sidi
04) Fofo Denba
05) Kommwi Baba Kommwi - Allah ya Mimoun Marhaba
06) Jilali Boualem
07) Shabakurya

Get it all here.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Master Has Set Down His Guinbri - Mâllem Mahmoud Guinia (1951-2015)

Word from Morocco today is that the great Gnawi master Mahmoud Guinia has passed on. I haven't seen this from any official news sources, but Twitter and Facebook are abuzz with posts about it, and I've seen no contradicting notices. The Gnaoua Festival has tweeted it. It appears, alas, that another great one has left us.

Mahmoud Guinia was, I believe, the first musician to become famous across Morocco as a performer of Gnawa music. Paco Abderrahmane may have been the first nationally famous Gnawa musician, but his fame came from his work with the folk/fusion/revival music of Nass el Ghiwane, not from his work in traditional Gnawa music. Though Mahmoud has engaged in fusion projects over the years, his fame was based on his work in the Gnawa ritual tradition, his many recordings of Gnawa music, and his participation at the national level representing the Gnawa tradition.

A mâllem (ritual master) from an established Gnawi family in Essaouira, Mahmoud was among the first musicians to release commercial recordings of music from the Gnawa ritual repertoire, and he remains perhaps the most prolific. His earliest cassettes were on the Fikriphone label out of Agadir. Later albums were distributed nationally on Tichkaphone out of Casablanca, and on many other labels over the years. There was no such thing as a Gnawa album before he began making them. His recorded work has run the gamut of what a Gnawa album could be - straight-up recordings live at rituals, studio recordings in a traditional vein or in a fusion vein, recordings from the "popular" side of the repertoire or from the heavy trance side. And those are just the Moroccan releases!

Here is a cassette from (I believe) the 1980s. It does not announce itself as a live album, but side A ends with applause and an announcement in French that the performers are about to take 5-10 minutes for a cigarette break. The recording may or may not be related to a "live album" released on the same label, which I will share in the near future. (Was going to up it today, but there are a few ethnomusicological thoughts pinging around my head, so I'll sort those out and share with you soon.)

Also, can I say how much I love cassettes that come in cardboard boxes! Look - you can stack it on any side and you still can read the artist's name!

Lemâalem M. Guinya (La Voix El Maarif 233)
01) Bunga Bunga Bulila
02) Soyo Soyo Kamilana
03) Sidi Mhamed ya Subaï
04) Ye Sudani a Bangara - Amara Musayi
05) Lalla Imma ya Sudani
06) Berrma Nana Soutanbi

Get it here.

[Note - The title of this post was inspired by, who posted an article earlier today entitled "Mahmoud Guinea a déposé son guembri: Adieu, Maître"]