University of Gnawa ft. Aziz Sahmaoui make London debut

“The musicianship was spare, tight and ruthlessly effective” … “In Gnawa ceremonies, the adepts are moved to dance their troubles away as they whirl to the rising power of the music. At WOMAD, the audience responded in similar though untutored fashion, transported, albeit for a few minutes, to another realm.”

University of Gnawa ft. Aziz Sahmaoui

Out Now
General Pattern

“There’s not only passion aplenty but a lifetime of curiosity and learning on this debut album. The erudite Sahmaoui has mixed together his own Gnawa culture, his passion for all things rootsy and west African, his love of jazz and a penchant for the gutsy pile-driving rhythms that were ONB’s (Orchestre National de Barbès) signature, into an intelligent coherent whole.” Songlines ****
Daily Telegraph
FT ****
“… a thrilling debut.”  The Observer
Album of the Week The Independent
“Warmly recommended”. fRoots
“The album is an intoxicating affair, visceral and groove-centric yet also nuanced and multilayered.”
Echoes ****

The debut album, University of Gnawa ft. Aziz Sahmaoui, was produced by Martin Meissonnier, a man of impeccable taste who has previously shared his talents with the likes of   Don Cherry, Khaled, Manu Dibango, King Sunny Ade, Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Seun Kuti.

The main man, multi-instrumentalist and lead vocalist, Aziz Sahmaoui, featured on the first two albums from Orchestre National de Barbès as well as alongside the undeniably great Joe Zawinul in his Zawinul Syndicate for 6 years (Zawinul’s previous includes a stint with Miles Davis recording In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew; and as a founder member of Weather Report). NB the University of Gnawa’s version of Weather Report’s “Black Market”.

Aziz grew up in Marrakesh at the centre of the cultural melting pot provided by the multifarious tribes of Morocco. There he absorbed the traditional music and emerging sounds from the new Moroccan scene: Nass el Ghiwane, amaziria music, chaabi and especially the music of the healing Gnawa masters.

With several African musicians in the band, Sahmaoui is taking Gnawa music back to its roots in Guinea or Ghana although most of the band are from Senegal most notably guitarist Hervé Samb, Alioune Wade – long-standing bass player for Ismaël Lo, and Cheikh Diallo on keyboards and kora.

University of Gnawa is a great CD as well as a stunning live experience.

University of Gnawa ft. Aziz Sahmaoui
December 6th
Kemia Bar
Momo Restaurant 25 Heddon Street,
London W1B 4BH
Doors at 9.00
on stage at 9.30
Free admission