exhilarating mix of gnawa and jazz


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Gnawa are the descendants of black slaves in Morocco, where they have formed their own Sufi order, the city of Essaouira being the center. Their music is hypnotizing, inciting and deeply rooted in the history of when this population was held as slaves.

Majid Bekkas is one of the most well-known and respected Gnawa artists, being part of the scene for more than 30 years. He has always had a broad scope, playing with artists like Pharaoh Sanders, Archie Shepp and Peter Brotzmann, just to name a few. Bekkas is considered one of the foremost figures in Moroccan Gnawa music today and has been key in the music’s revival over the last decade. He has never before collaborated with a UK band, so this one with Waaju is his first time ever.

Brainchild of Waaju bandleader Ben Brown, this unique collaboration features Brown’s expansive arrangements of traditional Gnawa songs, bringing Bekkas’ incredible musical force into the soundscape of potent grooves and trippy delays that Waaju has become known for.

Bekkas is welcomed effortlessly into Waaju’s simmering chemistry. Waaju’s members have remained deeply connected throughout the ensemble’s eight year history amidst working in the bands of Mulatu Astatke, Alfa Mist, Loyle Carner, Jordan Rakei, José James, Ashley Henry, Nubiyan Twist and others, and their music has commanded global listenership and has been championed by the likes of Gilles Peterson, Jazz FM, Jungle & Jordan Rakei.

Waaju & Majid Bekkas’s Gilles Peterson 6 Music live session was described by Gilles as “one of the most well-received sessions I’ve ever had here, whether on radio 1 or 6 music”.  This session will be released as the album Alouane on 11 October 2024.

Recorded largely at a packed Church of Sound in London, the room’s energy surges to peaks of extreme uplift with uncontrolled audience hollers, balanced with others of delicate introspection.

Waaju x Majid Bekkas acts as a powerful contribution to the Gnawa fusion genre.

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Francis de Souza



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