Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Inouraz Ensemble - Review

The concert by the Inouraz Ensemble held at Dar Adiyel was well attended with a capacity crowd jammed into the confined space. They were treated to a solidly professional and enjoyable display of the Amazigh music from the south

The Inouraz Ensemble (meaning ‘hope’ in Tamazight) was established ten years ago on the plains of the Souss, the area in the south of Morocco where Amazigh (Berber) and African cultures converge. The five artists harmoniously meld Berber melodies with sub-Saharan rhythms, conjuring up the freedom of jazz.

Their art is the art of the troubadour, much like that of the minstrels of medieval Europe, or the Mandinka griots.

Their repertoire of sung poetry covers a kaleidoscope of subjects, often improvised by the performer, depending on the news of the day and the inspiration of the moment.

Inouraz use local instruments: the ribab fiddle, loutar (lute) and the guembri, and for percussion the naqous, bendir and tamtam. Along the way the group have adopted the Iranian daf drum, an African calabash and an Indian tabla.

Lead by Khalid El Berkaoui, the Ensemble formed in 2006 with band members, Karima Boutadout: vocal,  Khalid El Berkaoui: percussion, Mustapha Amal: ribab and loutar, El Hassan Boumlik: loutar and ribab, Omar Akhatar: classical guitar and bass guitar. Together they presented a tight set of accessible music to an attentive audience. A little later they introduced a player of a small wooden flute. His addition brought with it the sounds of birds and echoes of a nomadic existence.

The flute brought with it evocative bird sounds

Audience reaction was appreciative but there were the normal criticisms about the lack of introductions at the festival being in English. One of the interesting observations made by audience members was that now the official festival opening is over, the crowd was much more representative of the festival devotees who come back year after year. For a large number of these people, English is their first or second language, rather than French. The last two festivals had gone a long way to making English more prominent. However, this year the new team appear to have not kept up the good work in this direction.

A much more Anglophone crowd than opening night

There was also comment that the lack of signage made reaching the venues difficult. There was a festival official stationed outside The Ruined Garden, directing people towards a very roundabout route to Dar Adiyel. When corrected he pointed out he did not know the Medina very well! In previous years signage was highly visible - this year (so far) it has been almost non-existent. Hopefully, this will be rectified before the Nights in the Medina.

Listen to singer Kenza Nezha Ameddouz:


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