gnaoua - jilala

Moroccan Trance Music

Recorded by Paul Bowles and Randall Barnwell


CD jewel case


The music represented here is a journey into the world of North African Trance Music. The music of both groups - Jilala & Gnaoua- is meant for entertainment, for religious expression, and most of all for the exorcism of spirits that dwell in souls of the people playing and dancing to the music.

The opening track was a Jilala wedding procession recorded by Paul Bowles in Tangier. "Women uulating, cars blaring their horns - the end of this track sounds like Stravinsky to me" says Bowles. The cars were not part of the procession, but part of a traffic jam in the congested streets of Tangier.

Next three tracks are pure Jilala music, dedicated to different saints corresponding to the family of the Prophet and to the early origins of the Jilala brotherhood. The master of this particular group is the moroccan artist Mohammed M'Rabet (SR38). For years, M'Rabet has danced & performed with this group.

Track five begins with a ghiatta drum solo from high atop the Grand Mosque, Tangier. Recorded by Paul Bowles in 1978 for he feared that with the modernization of the country such music late at night during the holy month of Ramadan would cease to exist. The next year it did. The piece segues with the recording of a blind musician made in the Jemaa El Fna of Marrakech.

Gnaoua recordins were made at House of the Nomades, Marrakech. The tracks are introductory pieces to the Leila, a special ceremony where the men dance out of their bodies until they are in another world. Living in a state of grace.

This record was published in 1990 with Black Star at the Point of Darkness by Paul Bowles (SR37) and The Storyteller and the Fisherman by Mohammed M'Rabet (SR38); it builds what we called our Tangier triptych.


This is a recording of Jilala and Gnoaua music from Morocco. The CD begins with what sounds like a celebration in the street and all of the ambient sound of the festival becomes part of the musicality of the performance, including loud voices and car horns. What follows is a group of recordings that truly capture this culture's musical genius. The evolving rhythms and melodies invite the listener to explore the musical aesthetics and flavors of Moroccan culture. This music can be disorienting at times. The name "trance music" is appropriate, the circulating and spiraling rhythms can be almost hypnotic. This music will suprise you. I have made a conscious effort to explore Moroccan music and this CD continues to be my favorite. It is an excellent collection of high quality field recordings. There are other CD's that are more popular and might have benefitted from smarter marketing etc. but this recording has to be one of the best. Anyone curious about world music stands a good chance of being converted to the rank of 'enthusiast' after hearing this.
R. G. Villalobos; February 7th, 2010 - Rating: 5/5




01 Unknown Artist: Jilala Wedding Procession 4:05
02 Jilala De Tanger: Ouled Khalifa 8:40
03 Jilala De Tanger: Darba Del Hameni 8:54
04 Jilala De Tanger: Gnaoui 15:17
05 Unknown Artist: Ghaitta And Drums (Part 1) /
Blind Musician, Jemaa El Fna (Part 2) 2:27
06 Gnaoua De Abdenbi Binizi: Jellaba Titara 7:43
07 Gnaoua De Abdenbi Binizi: Yumala 6:53
08 Gnaoua De Abdenbi Binizi: Neksma 11:05
09 Gnaoua De Abdenbi Binizi: Baba Larabi 9:09