Chris May at The Forge in Camden on 21st June for the second of the Master Musicians’ two-nights in Camden.
The Master Musicians of Joujouka began their UK tour last week with two shows at The Forge in Camden, ahead of their Pyramid Stage opening set at Glastonbury Festival.
Over two nights packed crowds enthusiastically welcomed the Moroccan group playing their first concerts in London since 1980.
A review published inAll About Jazz reported on the second night of their London residency.
Writer Chris May said: “The size of the Master Musicians’ lineup is flexible. In Joujouka itself, the ensemble runs into several dozen. At The Forge it was nine musicians and a dancer, the largest number the stage can agreeably accommodate. The intensity was off the scale. Six double-reed rhaita players and three drummers jammed, without a break, for two high-decibel, elemental hours, as measured in earth time. For the last half hour, they were joined by a goatskin-clad shaman channeling Bou Jeloud, a.k.a. Pan, who struck the shoulders of every audience member within reach with a couple of leafy branches. In Joujouka, Bou Jeloud’s touch is believed to transmit fertility.”
There was a link to the organisation of events in 1980. May said: “Frank Rynne, who, together with Rikki Stein, presented tonight’s performance at London’s Forge, the second of two gigs at the club prior to an appearance on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage at the end of the week. Stein is the first promoter to have taken the Master Musicians on tour outside Morocco. He lived in Joujouka from 1971 to 1973, when amongst much else he helped facilitate Ornette Coleman’s visit to the village to make the recordings which later appeared on the album Dancing In Your Head (Horizon, 1977). In 1980 Stein toured the Master Musicians through mainland Europe and Britain, where the itinerary included Glastonbury and five evenings at London’s late lamented Commonwealth Institute. Since then, together and separately, Stein and Rynne have ensured they keep the Joujouka experience authentic.
“Everybody is different, but one way of tuning in to the Master Musicians is to anchor yourself to the resonant beat of the bass drum, keeping it as your rock while the rhaitas morph from riff to riff and the higher pitched drums adjust tempos and displace rhythmic accents. Whatever technique you use, if you are fortunate you will end up feeling cleansed and refreshed. However tonight’s audience members got there, it was clear the message had been received.”
The Master Musicians of Joujouka visited the UK last week for their first shows in London since 1980 and an appearance opening the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival.
The Master Musicians were in the UK last week for a series of special performances, including a two-night London residency and a return to Glastonbury Festival, where they opened the Pyramid Stage on Friday afternoon.
The group’s tour began with two nights of concerts at The Forge in Camden on 20th and 21st June, representing their first appearances in London since 1980.
The Master Musicians then travelled to Somerset to open the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival on 23rd June.
The performances were well received not just by crowds, but also in the press, and here we compile selected highlights of coverage reporting on their triumphant appearances.
The Guardianpreviewed the tour with a special feature by Robin Denselow reporting from the festival held in the village earlier in the month. Denselow wrote: “Playing trance-inducing music that has existed for centuries, the Master Musicians invite us to rural Morocco to experience it up close – complete with gods in goat skins.”
Read the feature ‘People want the healing power’: Master Musicians of Joujouka, the mystical Moroccans opening Glastonburyin fullhere
While in London the group travelled to Soho Radio headquarters to perform a live set, recorded at Are You Mad studios, followed by an interview with Abdellah Ziyat for Max Reinhardt’s Late Late Lunch Show.
Listen back to the show, with live recording at 2hr 2mins 42 and interview at 2hr 22mins here
At Glastonbury Festival the group were recorded by BBC film crews for the BBC ONE Breakfast show.
The clip was broadcast during the end credits of the morning news digest as part of their festival preview here
The Guardianreviewed the Master Musicians of Joujouka’s appearance opening the Pyramid Stage as part of their rolling live coverage from Day One of the festival.
Ben Beaumont-Thomas wrote: “Opening the Pyramid stage – and therefore, spiritually speaking, the whole festival – are The Master Musicians of Joujouka, hailing from a village in the Ahl-Srif mountains in Morocco and playing a style of music that has existed for over a thousand years. Listening to it, you feel caught up in an eternal stream of sound: this is an unbroken performance of drones, fluting melodic patterns and hypnotic drums. Those melodies are played on ghaitas, reed instruments that look and sound like a cross between a clarinet and bagpipe chanter with serpentine and immersive notes that chafe against each other as they surge forward. The drums wouldn’t be out of place in a Hessle Audio techno set elsewhere in the fest: settling into a swaying rhythm that’s then twisted by the arrival of another competing bit.
“This being Glasto, people will try and clap along with anything but they quickly give up and get swept into this updraft of cosmic sound. It’s not po-faced though – each master comes out for an occasional shoulder shimmy, and halfway through arrives the village’s septuagenarian cafe owner, who moonlights as pagan goat god Boujeloud, waving olive branches and working the crowd like a pop pro (must be bloody boiling in his goat skins though). We’re suddenly released from the trance and the crowd roars. “Bit of a one hit wonder!” one bloke jokes – yeah, but what a hit.”
News agency Reuters highlighted the Master Musicians’ Pyramid Stage appearance as part of their festival coverage.
Sachin Ravikumar wrote: “Glastonbury Festival’s main Pyramid Stage opened on Friday to the sounds of The Master Musicians of Joujouka, a trance music collective from Morocco, as tens of thousands of fans kicked off three days of music and merrymaking under a blazing English sun.
“The Master Musicians of Joujouka, who also played at Glastonbury in 2011, belong to a centuries-old musical tradition with Sufi roots that gained greater attention after a collaboration with the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones in the 1960s.”
ReadMoroccan trance collective kick off music at Glastonbury here
The Financial Times wrote: “The Master Musicians of Joujouka are a traditional Moroccan troupe whose pipe and percussion wall-of-sound drowned out the electronic whump-whump-whump of nearby sound systems. To ears untrained in the nuances of Sufi trance music, they resembled a Scottish bagpipe ensemble playing free jazz, a formidable sonic proposition.”
The Master Musicians of Joujouka’s appearance at the UK’s biggest pop music festival also reached audiences in Morocco.
Morocco World News reported that their appearance at Glastonbury was “an opportunity for the Master Musicians of Joujouka to share their cultural heritage with audiences from around the world.
“The Master Musicians of Joujouka, hailing from a centuries-old musical tradition with Sufi roots, fascinated the crowds with their unique blend of rhythmic grooves and enchanting melodies.
“The collective’s previous appearance at Glastonbury in 2011 had already garnered considerable attention, but their return this year cemented their position as ambassadors of Moroccan music and cultural heritage.”
Read Moroccan Joujouka Music Takes Center Stage at Glastonbury Festival in England here
UK broadcaster ITVsaid: “The Master Musicians of Joujouka have kicked off the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2023.
“The group of 10 Sufi musicians from a village in the southern Rif Mountains in Morocco opened the main stage this year with a form of trance beats which are said to be “used for healing”.
“They played a range of drums and woodwind-type instruments while donning brown robes over a white shirt with a cream headpiece.
“They were introduced to the stage with the host saying: ‘Good morning Glastonbury, we have a fantastic band to start us off with here on the Pyramid Stage – The Master Musicians of Joujouka.’”
ReadGlastonbury Festival 2023: Music gets underway on the Pyramid Stagehere
A special report on the Master Musicians of Joujouka was also featured on the BBC Global News Podcast. Presented by reporter Richard Hamilton, the dispatch included live recordings from the Pyramid Stage.
*** UPDATE *** Adding more reports as they come in (8 July 2023)
A feature on the Master Musicians of Joujouka was published in the Financial Times, with a report on the recent Joujouka 23 Festival held in the village.
The Master Musicians of Joujouka “offer an ecstatic experience” wrote Mark Kidel,previewing the group’s UK appearances.
The article ‘Healing and transcendence with the Master Musicians of Joujouka’ said: “The Masters have toured the world since 1980 and later this month, for the second time, the Masters play the opening set on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury festival, after two dates in London.
Read the article ‘Healing and transcendence with the Master Musicians of Joujouka’in full here. The article was also published in the 17 June edition of the newspaper
A review published inAll About Jazz reported on the second night of the Master Musicians of Joujouka residency at The Forge in London.
Chris May said: “The size of the Master Musicians’ lineup is flexible. In Joujouka itself, the ensemble runs into several dozen. At The Forge it was nine musicians and a dancer, the largest number the stage can agreeably accommodate. The intensity was off the scale. Six double-reed rhaita players and three drummers jammed, without a break, for two high-decibel, elemental hours, as measured in earth time. For the last half hour, they were joined by a goatskin-clad shaman channeling Bou Jeloud, a.k.a. Pan, who struck the shoulders of every audience member within reach with a couple of leafy branches. In Joujouka, Bou Jeloud’s touch is believed to transmit fertility.”
Hamilton wrote: “For hundreds of years the Master Musicians of Joujouka have performed in their local village of the same name in northern Morocco, handing down their unique sounds of drums and pipes from generation to generation.
“But recently they opened the Glastonbury Festival in the south-west of England, one of the world’s biggest open-air music events.”
The article includes interviews with members of the group and Rikki Stein, whose relationship with the Master Musicians dates back to his time living in Joujouka from 1971.
Read the article Master Musicians of Joujouka: The Moroccan band who wowed Glastonbury in full here
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The Master Musicians of Joujouka’s festival opening appearance on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury is previewed in the Guardian.
Robin Denselow reports from the festival in the village earlier this month.
Read the full article here ahead of the group’s first night in London as part of a two night residency at The Forge, Camden (20th and 22st June).
The article said: “It’s two in the morning in the little village of Joujouka in the Ahl Srif mountains of Morocco, and surely the oldest and loudest acoustic band on the planet are celebrating the god Pan – who still holds sway here, in an uneasy alliance with Islam – while also warming up for Glastonbury, where they will open the Pyramid stage this weekend.”