In the summer months myself, like many who work independently, have down time when clients go on holiday and not much happens. Which is why it’s when I trawl through my files looking for uncompleted projects to work on and breathe new life into. The first of those to meet the light of day this summer of 2019 is a recording I made in 2001, three weeks before 9/11, at a small gathering in the coastal town of Laraiche on the Atlantic coast of Morocco just south of Tangiers. An old Moroccan friend of mine from Laraiche, Sidi Mustafa Mesamri, wanted to hold a gathering of the best singers and musicians he could muster for no other reason than love of the great Andalusian tradition still very much alive in Morocco. It brought together principally the Andalusian Orchestra of Tetouan and the Fes Singers as well as many individuals from Tangiers, Khenifra and other cities in Morocco. As well as many guests from Britain, Spain and America.
Our recording (assisted by Peter Sanders) was in two segments. The longest segment was released on a 2CD set in 2002 by Ihya records in Canada and had a limited distribution in North America and Europe. The first segment, which preceded the main recording was before the Fes Singers had arrived. It needed careful editing but after 18 years is now made available on this release. It is now on Spotify and soon on Itunes.
Being pre 9/11 lends the recording a kind of innocence of what was to come and because of its spontaneity and an unplanned location (the house we were staying in) avoided the use of loud PA amplification which now makes live recording in Morocco almost impossible. It is also a wonderful example of how the Moroccans from different cities and often with slightly varying traditions can all fit seamlessly together with no rehearsal and produce ecstatic classical music and singing in this ancient tradition.