I felt so good, sometimes ago, last summer, when browsing YouTube, I came across a video of “ El Gusto” Group Orchestra, during its passage at the RockefellerCenter, in New York, taken by aficionado of the Chaabi Music of Algiers. Which exhibition unfortunately I missed, alas! Then, after show, it’s averred to be a grandiose manifestation of a coterie of remaining talented artists , who were still alive, belonging from all of the communities that existed in Algiers before the events of 1962. Which venue reunites them to un orchestra, thanks to a lit’le bout- de- femme, named Safinez with a tremendous talent, for a unique Concert in the history of the Chaabi music of all times. And that event will make history for the next coming generations of fans, for sure. There were a golden time for the Algerian Chaabi music, a Blues Genre in the Algerian music repertoires in the 60’s, that was just after the Independence of Algeria.
A small talk about it, for instance, is necessary I presume to introduce the Chaabi by its own. The name of Chaabi was given by its master himself, El hadj El Anka, to a popular genre of music, that distinct its self from the Medheh, a religious music, and the classic schools of the typical music of Andalusia of olden Spain. The Chaabi draws its sources from the Andalusian Heritage Arab-Moorish broadened with Jewish soprano female cantata, and cantor, which music culture, yielded a touch of a proper Algerian country background. Before the fall of the cities of Granada, and Seville in Spain during the Reconquista epoch, those cities were the poles of attraction for the refugees of Muslim’s and Jewish communities, from all over the places in Spain, who fled the persecution of the Spaniards. Then, a second exile forced them to settle, in the North-African Arab cities, for more clement clime,
We might say that the Chaabi genre is born in tragedy times, and tells the story of a tragedy. And at each time, it regenerates itself from the its aches, like the Sphinx of Mythology, and the name “El Anka” is also, a name of a rare bird of mythology, given from a master of the olden epoch to his disciple of a rare talent, when he had excelled in memorizing the Qassidats, songs_to the point of surpassing the master.
The Chaabi sings the separation, the tear-off of lovers, the longing for a remote home, lost forever, to the diaspora of all the communities that share the same heritage, but also celebrates the gathering, and reunion of the two lovers having the same passion for Chaabi music, and finally join the band again to play once more toghether.
Fifty years later, a joyful band members of separated fellows y the oddscelebrated an event , a dream came true, to play one more time on stage together, in Paris, London, at the Opera or wherever, and above all within an orchestra.
In some sort it is the consecration, a revenge on the odds, after an exile of more the half a millenary, an off-spring of the Arab-Moorish music arising on stage in to apotheosis and was applauded on the other side of the Mediterranean.
thanks to a lit’le pretty women named Safinaz…
In memories of all the Olden and new masters of Chaabi.