The Master Musicians of Jajouka hail from a remote village in the Southern Rif Mountains of Northern Morocco. Led by Bachir Attar, the group has passed down musical secrets from father to son for 1,300 years. They first came to the attention of Western audiences when the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones released Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Jajouka in 1971. When Jones returned to England, he was disappointed with the sound of the tapes so he added some phasing to the music and kicked off one of the first interpretations of the Master Musicians of Jajouka’s music, something which continues today.
After Medeski Martin & Wood’s Billy Martin met Bachir Attar through a mutual friend, the pair hit it off and began performing together in the U.S. It wasn’t long before Martin was asked to oversee the production of The Road to Jajouka on Howe Records, a collaborative effort between the Master Musicians of Jajouka and some of the most exciting and inventive musicians around today. Medeski Martin & Wood, Marc Ribot, Ornette Coleman, Bill Laswell, DJ Logic, Mickey Hart, Lee Ranaldo, John Zorn, Flea and Howard Shore are just a handful of the talented artists featured on this disc which is a benefit album to help preserve the traditions of Jajouka. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the Jajouka Foundation, a non-profit organization which provides community health care for the musicians and their families while promoting awareness of their music around the world.
“After discovering and immersing myself in their music, I began playing along with it. I tried out different tempos, playing cross patterns. It was intense. There are moments where you connect and then suddenly you find yourself lost! They might be playing in 4 and then they’re in 5. They’ve got a wide spectrum, and use multiple pulses. There are many variables and counterparts. – Billy Martin
As Jim Jarmusch’s liner notes state, “the music of Jajouka is trance music, ecstatic music, a musical narcotic.” Bachir Attar and the Master Musicians of Jajouka harness a connection with the spiritual realm through their mind-altering sounds. The tension and release found within these collaborations is the most interesting aspect of this project. The musicians recorded in different studios and remixed the Master Musicians of Jajouka pieces together to complete the album.
From the Medeski Martin & Wood led “Hand of Fatima” to Howard Shore & London Philharmonic Orchestra’s chilling “Al’Aita,” the dissonance heard between the Master Musicians of Jajouka and the guest contributors weaves in and out of each composition, keeping listeners on their toes. “Djebala Hills” starts out slow and calm before John Zorn’s saxophone bursts through the Earth and screams towards the sky as Billy Martin crashes the drums around Flea’s electric bass playing. Falu’s dynamic vocals support and grind against the Master Musicians’ ghaitas (rhaitas) in a compelling mix. Each artist brings something different to the table which makes this much more than just a remix record. This is an impressive tribute to the Master Musicians of Jajouka, full of rich notes and fresh ideas. Listen to “Hand of Fatima” above and pick up The Road to Jajouka CD today. It will also be released on vinyl courtesy of Amulet Records this fall.