Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fez - Where Hamadcha Sufis Meet a DJ

The notion of a group of Hamadcha musicians teaming up to perform with a DJ may seem a little odd, to say the least. At first, it would seem like the ultimate mismatch - ancient musical chants, age-old instruments, next to a Dj ClicK's stack of electronic equipment. Yet, as Sandy McCutcheon discovers, the result is a stunning fusion of the old and new.

The video - Dj ClicK meets Hamadcha Fez - was filmed during the recording of a new album, entitled Click Here - Fez. Dj ClicK describes the result as, "a Euro-Mediterranean creation and ritual Sufi, where tradition alongside modernity."

Dj ClicK is described as one of France's most adventurous DJs. DJ Click is as passionate for Electronic music as for traditional World music. He worked with the singer Rona Hartner for an "Electro-Gypsy" album, as well as with Nu-Jazz band UHT or with Gnawa Njoun Experience for an "Electro-Oriental" project.

Dj KlicK

The result of this collaboration between Dj ClicK and the Hamadcha makes for truly interesting listening.  The inclusion of a jaw-harp is totally unexpected but the instrument feels as if it belonged there all along. Most gratifying is the fact that the electronic music enhances rather than detracts from the spiritual music of "the heart".  This was a brave undertaking and one that is ultimately satisfying.

photo Sandy McCutcheon

The Hamadcha of Fez have distinguish themselves by their will to preserve the brotherhood from a possible disappearance. Their thorough knowledge of the repertoire and their remarkable musical skills make them the most renowned and valued Hamadcha of Morocco. Both musician and a Sufi master, Abderrahim Amrani Marrakchi is one of the last group leaders – “moqaddem” – of the Hamadcha brotherhood. He is unquestionably the most famous moqaddem, valued for his erudition and his great musical skills.

Abderrahim Amrani Marrakchi -photo Sandy McCutcheon

He was born in 1967 in Fez. When he was a child, he joined the brotherhood in a group that was at that time led by his father. He was trained as a musician and became leader of the group in 1985. He is concerned about the preservation of the Hamadcha’s heritage, which is endangered by the modernization of Morocco, and devotes a large amount of his time to training children.

The Hamadcha onstage with Ismael Lo - photo Sandy McCutcheon

His group regularly performs in traditional music festivals, in Morocco and abroad. A previous The highlight of the evening came in 2009 when members of the Fez Hamadcha Sufi Brotherhood joined Ismael Lo on stage at the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music. The Hamadcha brotherhood was founded by Saint Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch in the seventeenth century, and has become famous through the originality of its repertoire, its spellbinding dances, and the trance-therapy skills of its members.

Frédéric Calmès - photo Sandy McCutcheon

The Hamadcha of Fez also include the remarkable French musician and anthropologist, Frédéric Calmès, who regularly acts as spokesperson in media interviews and onstage introductions. His performance on this album is superb.

This project would not have been possible without the considerable support of the French Institute in Fez 


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