Once again the Fes Festival Sufi Night proved to be a hit, with the largest crowds yet turning up for a late-evening performance by the Isawa Sufis - Phil Murphy reports.
The `Isawa Sufi order traces its lineage back through al-Jazuli (d.1465) to ash-Shadhili (d.1258). They take their name from the founder of the order Muhammad bin `Isa al-Mukhtar (1465-1524) who is buried in Meknes.
|The Muqaddmin from left to right|
Masmoudi `Abd al-`Aziz, `Abdallah Yacoubi, Mustapha Barakat, Driss Ba`lou
This performance was special as it brought together four muqaddmin (leaders) who collaborated to lead the group through selections of the `Isawa repertoire. `Abdallah Yacoubi, Driss Ba`lou, Mustapha Barakat, and Masmoudi `Abd al-`Aziz, all of whom have beautiful and powerful voices, took turns singing lead vocals and conducting the rhythm and tempo of the pieces.
The group began with a procession through the garden to the stage playing percussion and ghaitas (wooden oboes). By the time they reached the stage the garden was filling up and the crowd was cheering and clapping along with the multiple, layered rhythms which are characteristic of `Isawa music. The rhythmic drive continued to build in intensity from each piece to the next. It was not long before the entire crowd was on its feet, singing along and moving with the rhythm.
By the end Dar Tazi was completely packed. There was no room to move in the garden and the audience surrounded the stage and spilled into the café and back courtyard.
At one point, possibly the result of an altercation, the security shut the main gate preventing anyone from coming or going. This did not last long, and soon even more people poured in to catch a great performance by this group from one of the most popular Sufi orders in Fez.
As drums pounded and ghaitas wailed, the crowd bounced up and down with the most energy seen so far in the Sufi Nights series this year.
Story and photographs: Phil Murphy
Tonight at 23h00 Dar Tazi
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