Posts Tagged ‘gnawa’

Album Review | Top Of The World | Aziz Sahmaoui & University of Gnawa – Mazal

Posted on January 15th, 2015 in Recent posts, Reviews by .


Words by Tim Cumming

479099They’ll pay off their Gnawa student loans in no time 

The first University of Gnawa release came in 2011, when Sahmaoui, a founder of Orchestre National de Barbès, brought together Senegalese players Cheikh Diallo on kora, guitarist Hervé Samb, bassist Alioune Wad and Moroccan percussionist Adhil Mirghani. For their second release, the crack African quartet fuses sweet Moroccan chaabi with Gnawa music and the textures of Senegalese kora and guitar. There are gorgeous layers of harmony vocals throughout.

Moroccan and Senegalese flavours mix with melodic pop and exploratory contemporary jazz to make an album of strong tunes and great variety. The opening tracks are sweetly melodic African pop fusions, while ‘Une Dune Pour Deux’ is more stripped-down, a sociopolitical fable about a man who plants a tree in his neighbour’s garden but can’t gather its fruit. Its strong Gnawa bass rhythm and keening Moroccan call-and-response vocals are overlaid by the beautiful thin, wispy flute of Naïssam Jalal, one of several guest players here. Where the Maghreb meets the sub-Saharan is the sweet spot from which the University of Gnawa works its magic.

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Simo Lagnawi wins World Music Network’s Battle of the Bands

Posted on June 14th, 2013 in News, Recent posts by .

World Music Network announce the latest winner in their Battle of the Bands

Simo Lagnawi is a Moroccan Gnawa maalem (master musician) and guembri (lute) player, who honed his craft with Gnawa masters in Morocco for 20 years before establishing himself as the UK’s premier guembri player. This week he has been named winner of World Music Network’s Battle of the Bands.

Lagnawi won the WMN battle with his high-energy acrobatic dancing combined with strident vocals, qaraqab (metal castanets) and guembri playing. Through his desire to ‘take Gnawa past its traditional limitations’ as well as keeping the traditional form of Gnawa alive, Lagnawi continues to step beyond the boundaries of the traditional in his collaborations in projects such as Electric Jalaba and Kamba Band

Voted for by WMN’s fans, Lagnawi topped the list with his track ‘Baniyorkoy’. This song will appear on a forthcoming project with World Music Network. 

Photography by Hassan Hajjaj




See a video of the winning track:


Simo Lagnawi’s debut album Gnawa London will be reviewed in our next issue, Aug/Sept 2013 (#94) on sale July 19. Visit Simo Lagnawi’s website to find out more.

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Limited space still available for Lisbon & Morocco tours

Posted on May 18th, 2012 in Music Travel, Recent posts by .

There are still spaces available for our Lisbon tour of the ‘Home of Fado’ and the Gnawa and World Music Festival, part of this year’s Songlines Music Travel itinerary. Set your summer in motion and delve deep into the roots of fado in Portugal’s capital, or round off the holiday season in the idyllic setting of Morocco’s coastal port town, Essaouria. With such a wealth of  cultural discovery within European shores, neither trip is to be missed.

Lisbon, Portugal
Four days – June 14-17 2012
For the last decade or so, there’s been a real revival of interest in fado, with Mariza at the forefront of a new generation of artists bringing new life to the music. On this trip we’ll experience fado as the locals enjoy it, in some of the best tavernas and clubs.

Each venue has its own atmosphere and character so you’ll get a good taste of the city’s scene. We’ll visit the excellent Museum of Fado and the Portuguese Guitar, the former home of Amália Rodrigues (1920-1999), and enjoy a walking trip through the historic fado districts of Alfama and Mouraria. And don’t forget, Lisbon is also a fantastic place for Brazilian and Cape Verdean music. Drop by the website for a full itinerary and details.


The Gnawa and World Music Festival, Morocco
Five days – June 21-25 2012
Eight days – June 21-28 2012

Essaouira is a picturesque port town on Morocco’s Atlantic coast. Built by the Portuguese it is full of narrow whitewashed alleyways and beautiful squares. It’s also an artistic community and a centre of Gnawa music. In June each year, it hosts the extraordinary Gnawa and World Music Festival showcasing top Gnawan musicians along with a vast array of musical styles from around the world.

Our tour offers a long weekend in Essaouira, with two full days to enjoy the full range of the music and the opportunity to explore the narrow lanes of the old walled medina and the wonderful long beaches beyond. For more information please visit the website.
For more information on all of our music travel trips, please visit

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Announcing the best of the summer festivals

Posted on March 22nd, 2012 in News, Recent posts by .

The June issue of Songlines (#84) – on sale April 27 – sees this year’s festival supplement featuring Songlines Top 10 UK Summer Festivals and Songlines 25 of the Best International Festivals.

Get your sun hats, tents and wellies at the ready for another year of festivals full of the most legendary names and the freshest talent on the world music scene. Here are the Songlines recommendations:

Songlines Top 10 UK Summer Festivals
Africa Oyé
Big Session Festival
Cambridge Folk Festival
HebCelt Festival
Larmer Tree Festival
Latitude Festival
Norfolk & Norwich Festival
Rhythms of the World
Shrewsbury Folk Festival
WOMAD Charlton Park

Songlines 25 of the Best International Festivals
Africa Festival, Germany
Chicago World Music Festival, USA
Druga Godba, Slovenia
Essaouira Gnawa & World Music Festival, Morocco
Ethno Port, Poland
Fes Festival of Sacred Music, Morocco
Festival on the Niger, Mali
FMM Sines, Portugal
Førde Traditional and World Music Festival, Norway
Guca Trumpet Festival, Serbia
Jeonju International Sori Festival, South Korea
Jodhpur RIFF, India
Kriol Jazz Festival, Cape Verde
La Grande Rencontre, Québec
Musiques Metisses, France
Oslo World Music Festival, Norway
Rainforest World Music Festival, Borneo
Sakifo Festival, La Réunion
Sauti za Busara, Zanzibar
Savannah Music Festival, USA
Sfinks Festival, Belgium
Sommelo Festival, Finland
Sziget, Hungary
Warsaw Cross Cultural Festival, Poland
WOMADelaide, Australia

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