African Music Encyclopedia


The Master Musicians of Jajouka


The Master Musicians of Jajouka are a large all-male group who play traditional music from the Rif Mountains near Tangiers in Morocco. Originally discovered by William Burroughs and Paul Bowles in the '50s, they were brought to the world's attention in 1967 by Brian Jones (yup, the original Rolling Stones guitarist), he went there on a retreat, stumbled across them and flipped out. Jones drowned a month after returning from Morocco and the album he recorded, Brian Jones Presents The Pipes of Pan at Jajouka, was released two years later, in 1969. It was recently re-released on CD in early '95 by Point Music. The Berber Master Musicians of Jajouka eventually wound up on a Rolling Stones album. Mick Jagger called them

"One of the most musically inspiring groups still left on the plant."
Their music is a strange (at least to Western ears) combination of high-pitched, nasal buzzing sounds (imagine a swarm of bees) with surging waves of rhythm which can induce an ecstatic trance state. In performance on their first U.S. tour in 1997 they reinacted the week-long lunar feast of Aid el Kebir in which their music creates a trance-like atmosphere that engulfs the whole village.

Also check out Bachir Attir, he was one of the more successful members who went on to establish his own solo career (he just released an album in '95). Try their recording Apocalypse Across the Sky.

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