February 15, 2011

Amar el Achab-The chaabi of the great masters

The chaabi, which means `folk', is  typical   Algerian   music. It was first made famous in the sixties from El Hadj Muhammad El Anka, the songs are  generally in call and response form: a soloist to whom a small chorus answers.The song is expressed with  the qasida poetry and rests musically on a form that points  to the direction of the arabo-Andalusian music,as  specialists think that it is derived. The chaabi is built on the alternation of the verse-refrain, and its poetic set of themes often directs it towards social criticism or satire, although these last years due to  the Algerian political situation,has changed course into approaching different topics.In all cases  simplicity is the best element of chaabi.
The singers of chaabi are numerous, and their notoriety depends on the care which they take to choose the  poetry and the music.

Amar El Achab was born July 31st 1932 in Algiers .He was one of the leading chaabi composers and performers in Algiers during the 1950s and 60s. He immigrated to France in 1976 .Amar El Achab is a well cultured musician that plays a chaabi close  to the arabo-Andalusian  spirit but also capable of   bringing   it with  playful easiness  near the popular form . His sphere of activity is thus broader. Uncontested Master, he owes his success to his very strong musical temperament and  his direction of the tempo.
 The richest parts of this live recording are the various improvised interludes such as the ones in the zidan mode and the mawwal mode. During a concert, these interludes serve the purpose of allowing the singer and musicians to show off his  vocal ornamentation and improvisational skills and El Achab's dramatic, throaty improvisations are superb.

This is the real desert blues, the hardcore sha'bi or chaabi sound that's been the music of the working classes and poor across North Africa for almost a century. And vocalist and mandola player Amar El Achab gives a hardcore rendition of the music, albeit in a modern, though not pop, fashion. His ensemble employs piano and banjo among more traditional instruments. Apart from his own compositions, much of the material here is traditional, although some pieces, like "Istikhbat Zidan," are group improvisations, a testament to the quality of this band. They can also get a very full sound on the uniquely Arabic songs, like "Goulou Yamna/Dites-le A Yamna," where mandola, guitar, and violin combine to give a wonderfully full sound. And using banjo, as opposed to the more expected oud, proves to be inspired, with a not immediately identifiable twang. On piano, Mustapha Yacoub is used sparingly, but to interesting effect on "El Goumri." And El Achab himself proves to be a master of mandola on the same track. It might not be easy listening for beginners, but this disc, recorded live at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, is perfect chaabi. ~ Chris Nickson, Rovi


and a net find :)

from El Hadj M'Hamed El Anka

as imagelink


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