The Road To Jajouka

The Road To Jajouka

The Road To Jajouka

Various Artists


Perched upon the Rif mountain range of Morocco, the Master Musicians of Jajouka — dubbed “the 4,000 year old rock ‘n’ roll band” by William S. Burroughs — have fascinated listeners with their ceremonial trance music for years. Rolling Stone Brian Jones was an early devotee in the West, featuring their music on his 1971 album Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Jajouka. Ornette Coleman found their hypnotic blend of wind instruments and native percussion so entrancing that he cut “Midnight Sunrise” with the group on his 1976 release Dancing in Your Head. Led by Bachir Attar, the Master Musicians of Jajouka are being helped out by this benefit record, The Road To Jajouka. Produced by Billy Martin, drummer for Medeski Martin & Wood, the record features a wide assortment of artists from around the world, and for the most part it’s a compelling trip.

“Hand of Fatima” begins the journey, featuring Medeski Martin & Wood along with guitarist Marc Ribot and Attar, and the mixture of the ancient sounds of Jajouka and Ribot’s snaky guitar is mesmerizing. East Indian singer Falu joins up with saxophonist John Zorn, bassist Flea, and Billy Martin on “Djebala Hills,” and Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo sounds right at home on “Boujeloudia Magick.”

There are a few missteps, such as the collaboration between Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and DJ Logic on “Baraka,” which attempts to wed urban beats to the Master Musicians sound, to no great effect. But all is forgotten on the magnificent “Jnuin,” with Ornette Coleman sounding as spry and imaginative as ever, his harmolodic style of playing meshing perfectly with the group’s shifting rhythms and repetitive melodies. Howard Shore and the London Philharmonic Orchestra conclude the disc with “Al’Aita.” Shore and Coleman wrote the score to the film version of William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, inspired by Ornette’s work with the Jajouka musicians on “Midnight Sunrise,” and his cut here is from the soundtrack to The Cell, featuring Bachir Attar and the Master Musicians of Jajouka.

This is literally a timeless music, haunting, intriguing and somewhat foreign to our ears, but one that can elevate the listener as few other experiences can. Try The Road to Jajouka with open mind and ears, and you’ll find yourself transported to a place and a culture of which you’ve never dreamed. Some of you might not come fully back — and isn’t that why you travel to begin with?

Howe RecordsJajouka Foundation

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Metallica: The $24.95 Book
    Metallica: The $24.95 Book

    From an underground band that pioneered the thrash metal sound, to arguably the biggest rock act in the new millennium, Metallica has had a long and tumultuous history. Ben Apatoff scours a myriad of sources to catalog this history in his new book.

  • Araceli Lemos
    Araceli Lemos

    Shortly after AFI Fest 2021 wrapped, Generoso spoke at length with director, Araceli Lemos about her award-winning and potent feature debut, Holy Emy. Lemos’s film uses elements of body horror in her story about the exoticization of two Filipina sisters living in Greece and how that exploitation creates a distance between them.

  • Southern Accents 55
    Southern Accents 55

    A woofin’ good time with cuts from Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Delta Moon and more from KMRD 96.9, Madrid, New Mexico!

  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

    Absurdism with a healthy dose of air conditioning.

  • Mixtape 172 :: My Old Bassist
    Mixtape 172 :: My Old Bassist

    Like pre-teens throwing every liquid into the kitchen blender and daring each other to drink the results, Woody and Jeremy fuse all manner of sounds legitimate and profane into some murky concoction that tastes surprisingly good.

  • Demons/Demons 2
    Demons/Demons 2

    Synapse Films reissues Lamberto Bava’s epic ’80s gore-filled movies Demons and Demons 2 in beautiful new editions.

  • Sylvie Courvoisier and Mary Halvorson
    Sylvie Courvoisier and Mary Halvorson

    Searching for the Disappearing Hour (Pyroclastic Records). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Payal Kapadia
    Payal Kapadia

    Earlier this year, director Payal Kapadia was awarded the Oeil d’or (Golden Eye) for best documentary at the 74th Cannes Film Festival for her debut feature, A Night of Knowing Nothing. Lily and Generoso interviewed Kapadia about her poignant film, which employs a hybrid-fiction technique to provide a personal view of the student protests that engulfed Indian colleges and universities during the previous decade.

  • Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella
    Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella

    A classic children’s tale re-imagined by America’s greatest composers.

  • Taraka

    Welcome to Paradise Lost (Rage Peace). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

From the Archives