Monday, February 19, 2007

There were a couple of weeks in the mid 80s when Bachir Attar was the bee's knees in NYC. General knowledge of the Master Musicians of Joujouka was percolating into the consciousness of new music hounds, myself included, and here comes one of those guys to New York, willing to mix it up with the downtown community. Not a helluva lot resulted though, at least on recordings. This one appeared on Enemy, maybe around '87 (there's no date on the sleeve and AMG mistakenly lists the CD issue date, 1994) where Attar teams with that guy who was on every other downtown album at the time. In essence, it's not so bad. Attar himself is a joy to hear, especially on guimbri, a two-stringed lute. Sharp pretty much is content to play sideman and happily so, with one glaring exception: his drum machine programming. I know it was the mid-80s but still. Jeez, hard to imagine it wasn't clear just how awful these patterns sounded. They're also just so unnecessary; Attar's playing carries plenty of implicit rhythm. If they wanted percussion, I kinda think there were more than a few actual players around NYC they could've gotten.

Attar made one other disc that I know of, "The Next Dream" for CMP which, iirc, fared better. I believe he went back to leading the Moroccan group after this. I'm not up on the controversy embroiling the two (or more?) sects of musicians claiming the right to be recognized as the TRUE Jajouka masters (or, for that matter, what the correct spelling is--I've seen it about 8 different ways and am using the two most popular here), but it looks like his branch, anyway, is billing themselves as The Master Musicians of Jajouka with Bachir Attar. I sniff the cult of celebrity. Their 'Apocalypse Across the Sky' disc produced by Laswell is very tasty.

1 comment:

robert said...

I saw Bachir Attar and the Master Muscians of Jajouka a number of times in 2001. First on their own and then in collaboration with the Critters Buggin guys (Skerik, Brad Houser, Matt Chamberlin, Mike Dillon). This was a good fit I think, Critters Buggin's groove driven electronica/jazz/freakout sound worked with the ecstatic musical meditation of the Jajouka guys really well. I saw the first show of a combined tour they did in 2001 and also the last show from that tour. Amazing how well they gelled by the end and the technical difficulties they overcame (such as micing his guimbri or his oud). Tough tour though - they had a NYC gig booked on the 11th of September and after that it wasn't as fun to be a Moroccan driving across fly-over country...

They have a track or too on the last Critters album that is tons better then anything on that E# collab.