Monday, March 29, 2010

Maleem Mahmoud GHANIA with Pharoah SANDERS - The Trance of Seven Colors 1994

Maleem Mahmoud GHANIA with Pharoah SANDERS - The Trance of Seven Colors 1994


To call this outing "authentic" would be an understatement, given that Bill Laswell and Pharoah Sanders took only some digital recording equipment and Sanders' saxophone to Morocco to record it. The CD sleeve photos show the informal nature of the proceedings, revealing that the recording took place in someone's home with a large cast of musicians, many of whom are Ghania's family members. The recording did not suffer at all from the mobile equipment, and The Trance of Seven Colors lives up to its title, giving the listener first-hand access to Gnawa healing ceremonial music. Ghania's Guimbri (an African instrument) unravels masterful, off-kilter, bass-like lines over chanting and various percussion instruments. Pharoah Sanders sounds inspired in the setting also, making this a worthwhile recording for Sanders fans who heard intimations of world music in his '60s dates.
By Wilson McCloy. AMG.
Although it might seem surprising, jazz and Arabic music have quite a bit in common. In particular, both emphasis a strong tradition of improvisation. Perhaps that is why this CD works so well... a collaboration between Pharaoh Sanders on saxophone and the intense driving beats and rhythms of Morocco's Gnawa Sufi brotherhood. As others have noted, the result is a strange spiritual experience, but it works. It takes a certain amount of talent and sensitivity to be able to pull something like this off, but the musicians managed to do so on this album, and quite successfully I might add. Listening to it, one can easily be overwhelmed by the sheer powerful of this music - it is beautiful, devotional and innovative all at the same time. It is especially interesting to see how both traditions manage to complement each other without either overwhelming the other. All in all, a very well done effort. Perhaps those interested in this CD will also do further exploration of Sufi music, of which there are no shortage of commercially available recordings on the market today.
This is more than's a ritual, a healing event. And this is some of the fiercest and most inspired blowing that Pharoah has done in a long time...reminicent of the old days actually.
This disc reproduces a meeting between Sanders and the master Gnawa musician Maleem Mahmoud Ghania. Gnawa people are Morrocan descendents of black African slaves, who have maintained a spiritual and musical tradition that is an amalgam of Sufi mysticism and elements of West African spirit religion. The music is haunting. It is a vocal music, driven by an instrument called the guimbri...a bass lute with gut stings and a head made out of camel hide. The musician plucks the strings and slaps the head to create a sound somewhere between a bass guitar and a drum. The rest of the ensemble consists of a responding chorus who accompany the music with hand claps and Krkaba, loudly resounding hand cymbals. The music is equal parts Sufi ceremonial music and West African drum ritual. On it's own the music is compelling.

But over top of this on many of the tracks on the album, Pharoah Sanders let's loose on some of the most firey, spirit filled improvisation that he's done since the late 60s. Not all of this is out...some is quite beautiful and very melodic. His ballad Peace in Essaouira is deeply moving. But even when he maintains tonal structures and specific pitches in his improvising, there is a spirit here which is bracing. And when he goes out! It's a true meeting of the two groups, not a gimmick.

This is an album that will give you energy and literally raise the spirits. I find that I can't keep still while listening to it. It is true trance music.
By Christopher Forbes.
Abdellatif Abdellaoui- Vocals, Handclapping, Krkaba
Mohamed Abdellaoui- Vocals, Handclapping, Krkaba
Abdellahkrkaba Ahkaraz- Vocals, Handclapping
Maleem Mahmoud Ankaraz- Trombone
Mohamed Boujmia- Vocals, Handclapping, Krkaba
El Moktar Ghania- Vocals, Handclapping, Krkaba
Maleem Abdellah Ghania- Vocals, Handclapping, Krkaba
Maleem Boubker Ghania- Guimbri
Maleem Mahmoud Ghania- Trombone, Vocals, Guimbri
Zaida Ghania- Vocals
Abdelmalak Ben Hamou- Ghaita
Abdellah Lamsouger- Handclapping  
Hassan Machoure- Vocals, Handclapping, Krkaba 
Abderrahman Nimini- Trombone
Mohamed Outanine- Vocals, Handclapping, Krkaba 
Pharoah Sanders- Tenor Sax
01. La Allah Dayim Moulenah (PS,MMG) 11:10;
02. Bala Moussaka (Trad.) 3:54;
03. Hamdouchi (Trad.) 9:07;
04. Peace In Essaouira (For Sonny Sharrock) (PS) 7:23;
05. Boulandi Samawi (Trad.) 13:56;
06. Moussa Berkiyo / Koubaliy Beriah La'Foh (Trad.) 4:34;
07. Salat Anbi (Trad.) 8:17;
08. Casa Casa Atougra (Trad.) 5:05;
09. Mahraba (Trad.) 7:48.


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