Moroccan Grooves


Massaft (Barraka El
023, 2004)

Azzddine’s debut CD demonstrates the surge of creativity that is coming out
from the Mediterranean region. Massaft  combines Berber blues,
shaabi, melhoune, chill out and trance sounds created by Azzddine Ouhnine, a
blind ud player and composer from Morocco; along with the powerful bass grooves
of American musician and producer Bill Laswell; the balieu-French (spoken in the
multicultural suburbs around the big cities of France) rapping of Algerian
singer Boualem; and the crew at Barraka’s studio in Switzerland. The story behind the final recording is very interesting. Producer Pat Jabbar
explains: “At that time, hard-disk recording studios were not easy to find
yet in Morocco, so 24 track tapes were brought to Rabat, with the intention of
recording Azzddine’s whole orchestra of 15 musicians in 2002. In the meantime,
the motivated orchestra, managed to record some tracks themselves at the studio
of Les Freres Megri, a very famous Moroccan singer & songwriter. Unfortunately,
these recordings were made too fast and without synchronization. Only two tracks
with the whole orchestra were able to make it on the actual album (tracks 6 and

Finally, a few months later, the rest of the tracks were recorded on a
Pro-Tools system in Casablanca, with only five musicians. Back at the secret
laboratory, the programming and the production was growing fast until the point
was reached of choosing the bass lines and their sounds. Nothing happened
anymore, it was complete stagnation! Synthetic bass sounds would not have given
what the music needed. And bass players in Morocco are as difficult to find as
kanun players in Europe. So Bill Laswell was asked if he could play a bass line
to one or two tracks from a selection of ten songs. “One week later, we got a CD
back from New York City with eight incredible and groovy bass lines to eight
tracks from the master himself!

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.