Sunday, December 17, 2017

Maalam Soudani | Essoauira (1999)

Another cassette from the Algerian bodega here in Astoria, this time a terrific gnawa recording featuring vocals, tbal, and gimbri, the latter presumably plucked by our man decked out above, Maalam Soudani.

I mentioned this cassette on my show last week and, unless misunderstood him, Tim wrote in the comments that he knew Soudani back in the day in Essoauira.

If we're lucky, perhaps Tim will share with us what he knows about Soudani's life and work; I wasn't able to find anything about him online, but the music is [squeezes fingers together and presses them to lips] ... mmmwah!

Link to download [and Tim's reply!] in comments.


Gary said...

Get it at:

tim abdellah said...

Hey Gary - yes, this is Mâalem Najib Soudani, from Essaouira. There were 2 main Gnawi families in Essaouira back in the day - the Guinia/Gania family and the Soudani/Goubani family. Like Mahmoud Guinia, Najib Soudani was the son of a Gnawi mâalem, and he and his brothers all grew up learning the Gnawi arts.

Najib used to have a little shop in the Essaouira medina, where he sold Gnawa acoutrements: instruments, chechiya caps covered with cowrie shells, a few cassettes. I hope he’s still going strong. I was put in touch with Mâllem Najib by New York sax player Patrick Brennan, who recorded a really interesting album with Najib after Patrick appeared at the first Gnawa festival in Essaouira in 1998. The out of print “Sudani” album is one of the more interesting jazz/Gnawa collaborations, weaving free/energy textures, blues vocals, and Gnawa riffing and singing. The album is out of print, but the website remains online:

Gary said...

Whoa, thanks for all of that, Tim. Definitely will keep my eyes peeled for that album

Unknown said...

thank you!

tim abdellah said...

I received an email from a traveler to Morocco saying that he met Najib in Essaouira 2 years ago. I'm happy to report that Najib still runs the shop, continues to be active musically, and appears to be happy and healthy!

Gary said...

Great news!