The Master Musicians of Jajouka (led by Bachir Attar)
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Jajouka is an ancient village perched above a long valley in the blue Djebala foothills of the Rif Mountains in Northern Morocco, home to the Master Musicians of Jajouka as well as the Sanctuary of Saint Sidi Ahmed Sheikh, who was a Muslim missionary, teacher of Moulay Abdesalem “The Patron Saint of Morocco”, and whose spiritual energy is closely tied with the village and its music. Most people who live in Jajouka are members of the Ahl Sherif tribe, which means “the Saintly.” The Attar clan of Jajouka is the founding family of the village and keepers of one of the oldest surviving musical traditions. The music and secrets of Jajouka have been passed down through generations from father to son, by some accounts for as long as 4000 years. The musicians of Jajouka are taught from early childhood a complex music which is unique to Jajouka. After many years of dedicated training, the musicians finally become Malims or Masters. They possess baraka, the blessing of Allah, which gives them the power to heal, and the endurance required to play some of the most intense and complex music around.
For centuries, the Master Musicians of Jajouka were employed by the Kingdom of Morocco as the royal musicians of the sultans. They had special papers detailing their rights as privileged citizens which allowed them to remain the royal musicians for many rulers – even through French, English and up to Spanish colonization. Throughout that time, the Master Musicians would still continue to play in and around Jajouka at weddings, Moussems (local music festivals centered around a saint), and for holidays such as the Aid El Kebir. Supported locally by farmers throughout the Djebala, the musicians were allowed to take an annual tithe from their crops, a privilege they held until the early twentieth century.
The first recordings by the Master Musicians of Jajouka who were led by Bachir Attar’s father, Hadj Abdessalem Attar, included recordings with Brian Jones (Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Jajouka, 1971 AFM/1995 Point Music), Joel Rubiner (The Master Musicians of Jajouka, Adelphi), and Ornette Coleman (Dancing in Your Head).
Led today by Bachir Attar, these are the Master Musicians of Jajouka recognized by the Kingdom of Morocco. The younger generation of our legendary group recorded under the names “Master Musicians of Jajouka” and “Master Musicians of Jajouka Featuring Bachir Attar” with The Rolling Stones (Steel Wheels, 1989), Bill Laswell(Apocalypse Across the Sky, Axiom Records, 1992), Tchad Blake (Jajouka Between the Mountains, WOMAD/Real World Records, 1996), Talvin Singh (The Master Musicians of Jajouka Featuring Bachir Attar, Point Music, 2000), Lee Ranaldo (Crossing Border Fest, The Hague, 2003), Bernardo Bertolucci (The Sheltering Sky film soundtrack), Nicholas Roeg (Bad Timing film soundtrack), Howard Shore “The Road to Jajouka- Howe Records and others.
Bachir Attar has recorded with artists such as Ornette Coleman, Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones, Elliott Sharp, Maceo Parker, Ginger Baker and Deborah Harry. The Master Musicians of Jajouka and Bachir have also toured with the artists Ornette Coleman, Steve Lacy and Critters Buggin,Bill Laswell and others.Bachir Attar’s group released the album Apocalypse Across the Sky in 1992, produced by Bill Laswell. Jajouka Between the Mountains followed in 1996, produced by Tchad Blake; and Master Musicians of Jajouka Featuring Bachir Attar, produced by Talvin Singh, was released in 2000. The Road to Jajouka, was released in 2014 and featured guest appearances by Ornette Coleman, John Medeski, Flea, DJ Logic, Lee Ranaldo, Bill Laswell, and many others.
Their most recent album is “Dancing Under the Moon” GlitterBeat records 2022 and the re release of “Jajouka Between the Mountains” on Vinyl and cd June 2022.
“Jajouka Rolling Stone: A Fable of Gods and Heroes” – Stephen Davis
“Yesterday’s Perfume: An Intimate Memoir of Paul Bowles” – Cherie Nutting and Paul Bowles
“Days” Echo Press 1989 – Paul Bowles
“Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead: (And Other Things I Learned From Famous People) – Neil Strauss
“Blues & Chaos: The Music Writing of Robert Palmer”
Along Came Polly, Augusta Palmer “The Hand of Fatima”, Bad Timing
Nichalas Roeg, Howeard Shore ” The Cell”, The Sheltering Sky” Bertolucci, Ornette
Coleman “Made in America”