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March 2024 #34 - Top 40 for North African Influence Jilali (track)
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About: Maâlem Hassan El Gadiri & Sons
About: Gnawa Stage
About: Maalem Hassan
On Tour in Europe & North America in Summer & Autumn 2020 & in Asia in Winter 2020-2021"

After several years of absence from the international stages, Maâlem Hassan El Gadiri does us the honor, in 2020, of leaving his activities within his brotherhood to offer us the authentic Gnawi sound of Marrakech.

Maâlem Hassan Zgarhi El Gadiri: Guembri, lead vocal, choir, qarqabas, and tbel
Samir Zgarhi: Guembri, choir, qarqabas, tbel, and dance
Kamal Ifir: Guembri, choir, qarqabas, tbel, and dance
Abidine Zgarhi: Guembri, choir, qarqabas, tbel, and dance
Jamal Zgarhi: Guembri, choir, qarqabas, tbel, and dance

Accompanied by his three sons, whom he introduced very young to the practice of the guembri (bass), and by Kamal Ifir, Maâlem Hassan El Gadiri delights you in a trance sometimes swaying and throbbing, sometimes percussive and wild. Between the bass of the guembri and the treble of the qarqabas (metal castanets), the captivating voices, in pure Marrakshi style, propel you to the African roots of trance...

The musicians were born and live within their Gnawi brotherhood in Marrakech. Everyone practices their art on a daily basis, between performances on Djemaa El Fna square where Maâlem Hassan El Gadiri also plays a social role, ritual nights of trance (Lilas), manufacture and export of guembries and quality Gnawa ritual objects, and tours abroad.

Complete and sought-after artists, they collaborate together or individually with renowned artists, musicians, and producers such as Blanca Li, Paco & Nass El Ghiwane, Bill Laswell, Gnawa Diffusion, Gnawa Halwa, Jan Rase, Gnawa Impulse, Trance Mission... and have performed in many international clubs and festivals: Festival Gnaoua - Essaouira, Montreux Festival, Institut du Monde Arabe, New Morning - Paris, UFA Fabrik - Berlin, Afrika Festival - Würzburg, and also in Tangier, Lyon, Marseille, Palermo, New York, Amsterdam, Den Haag, Brussels, Madrid, Prague, Zagreb, Hamburg, Frankfurt...

Maâlem Hassan El Gadiri & Sons lead the most varied audiences into trance, communicating the warmth of African tradition thanks to their modern knowledge of the performing arts, added to their ancestral know-how.


The Gnawa are a brotherhood with mythical origins from Mali and Sudan. It has thousands of followers in Morocco, particularly in Marrakech. Ritual practices based on music and trance unfold during nighttime ceremonies known as 'Lilas'. The social importance of the Gnawa is evident during these private celebrations. The Gnawa can provoke or pacify a state of trance among the public, whether initiated or not. The trance plays a role that is both therapeutic, liberating, and integrating.

This tradition is handed down orally and musically from Maâlem (master) to Maâlem among families of often slave origin.
The traditional instruments are the guembri or sintir (three-string bass guitar covered with camel skin), qarqabas (metal castanets), and tbel, the drums. The singing is cyclical in structure, with one sentence from the soloist followed by a sentence sung in chorus.

The Moussems (pilgrimages) are an annual opportunity for the various Gnawa groups (Aissaoua, Jilala, Hamadsha) to meet up and share ideas. During the Moussems, daytime processions and nighttime Lilas take place around a given saint's mausoleum.

A Lila is made up of three parts. The order varies depending on family traditions.

In general, the first part is secular (Oulad Bambara, without qarqabas, then Neksha, with qarqabas), the singing and dancing precede the actual ceremony and there is no trance. A ritually sacrificed animal is served during the meal to all the guests.
This is followed by the Ada (calling of the spirits) organized by the Moqqadma (mistress of ceremony). Punctuated by the rhythm of the drums, the first trances often take place at this part, with offerings of dates and milk.

The third and longest part is dedicated to the Mlouks. It gives rise to the most varied rituals, undertaken in a state of trance by the Moqqadma and her followers: handling of knives, broken glass, water, and flour. Colors attributed to the spirits then follow: white, the color of the descendants of the Prophet; green, the color of the saints of Islam; the first black, the color of the Sudanese ancestors; blue, the color of the sea; red, the color of sacrifice; the second black, the color of the forest; then yellow, the color of the sun and the harvest.

A Lila ends with a festive atmosphere at dawn, accompanied by a meal served to all the guests.
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