The now legendary Group Doueh have been playing in and around their native Dakhla, in the Western Sahara for over 27 years. The discovery of the group by Sublime Frequencies, via a song snatched from a AM radio broadcast in Morocco in 2005 (as well as an exploratory mission in 2006 that landed Hisham Mayet in the group’s compound after chasing an overland trail from Tangiers all the way to the Mauritanian border) sealed the band’s relationship with the label. A successful European tour with label mate Omar Souleyman in 2009 ensued and western audiences were finally able to witness the power of the group’s mighty live shows. Doueh’s guitar heroics and wife Halima Jakani and Bashiri Touballi’s soaring vocal interplay entranced all who were present. In 2010 Doueh hosted Tony Allen in his home town and joined in on some of his dates in Europe. Then they returned to Europe in triumph in May 2011 with new album Zunya Jamma in tow, delivering a blistering set at the Animal Collective curated All Tomorrow’s Parties festival and sending the atmosphere sky bound everywhere they traveled including a heroic USA tour in 2011 that entranced all American audiences alike.
For the first time in 6 years, Group Doueh will return to the USA. The band is still a family affair with sons, El Waar and Hamdan respectively on synth and drums added to the already potent mix of searing Saharan modes filtered through Doueh’s maximalist electric guitar and tidnit mastery and Halima Jakani’s soaring spiritual vocals charting the music into the cosmos.
Opening for Group Doueh will be Innov Gnawa, a local young musical collective dedicated to exploring Morocco’s venerable gnawa music tradition in NYC.
“Snaking, mesmeric guitar playing … Doueh and family made the entire room glow with folk chants and electrified stomps.” – Spin
This concert is part of World Music Institute’s Desert Blues Series.
Be sure to check out a screening (and Q&A with the director) of the documentary Oulaya’s Wedding on Monday, October 2 – 7pm at the New School. Group Doueh invited their label Sublime Frequencies to the wedding of their daughter Oulaya. This documentary provides a unique glimpse into the lives of people living in Dakhla, their thoughts, their music, their homes, ceremonies, and parties! An absolutely beautiful documentary, rich and intimate. For more info please visit worldmusicinstitute.org.
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Innov Gnawa is a young musical collective dedicated to exploring Morocco’s venerable gnawa music tradition in the heart of New York City. Formed in the summer of 2014 by Moroccan expat Samir LanGus, the group draws on the considerable talents and expertise of Hassan Ben Jaafer, a Maâlem, or master gnawa musician, originally from Fes, Morocco. Under the guidance of Ben Jaafer, Innov has delved deep into the roots and rituals of gnawa music, and made a big splash in NYC, playing some of the city’s most prestigious rooms including Lincoln Center, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn Bowl and the storied backroom of Brooklyn’s Barbès.
For the uninitiated, gnawa music is the ritual trance music of Morocco’s black communities, originally descended from slaves and soldiers once brought to Morocco from Northern Mali and Mauritania. Often called “The Moroccan Blues”, gnawa music has a raw, hypnotic power that’s fascinated outsiders as diverse as writer/composer Paul Bowles, jazz giant Randy Weston and rock god Jimi Hendrix. The music is utterly singular, played on an array of unique instruments — from the lute-like sintir that the Maâlem uses to call the tune, to the metal qarqaba (castinets) with which the kouyos (chorus) keep time and pound out clattering, hypnotic rhythms.
Hailed by Brooklyn Magazine as one of the “5 Bands You Need to Know in Brooklyn’s Arabic Music Scene”, Innov Gnawa make great use of this traditional repertoire, and add their own, contemporary spin with additional African and Latin percussion. Taken as a whole, this exciting new outfit works hard to fuse a centuries old North African tradition with the pulse and attitude of New York City now.