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WORLD MUSIC

Jajouka a Feast for the Emotions : World music: Mick Jagger called the Moroccan ensemble 'one of the most musically inspiring groups left on the planet.'

November 03, 1995|DON HECKMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The sounds produced by the Master Musicians of Jajouka are gripping, hypnotic, trance-like. Long, flowing, melodies played on a swarm of oboe-like ghaitas to the accompaniment of persistent, nasally drones and surging waves of rhythm from two-headed drums.

It is music that moves past the intellect, directly into the emotions, music that fully justifies Mick Jagger's description of the Moroccan ensemble as "one of the most musically inspiring groups still left on the planet."

Fascinating though it may be, however, the appearance of the Jajouka ensemble at Veterans Wadsworth Theater in its first U.S. tour on Saturday will be vastly distant--both geographically and spiritually--from its legendary, weeklong celebrations of the lunar feast of Aid el Kebir in the Rif Mountains near Tangiers.

Although the program will present a staged re-enactment of the feast, it will not possess quite the power of the actual Aid el Kebir , in which the Jajouka music creates a trance atmosphere that envelops the entire village for the appearance of the mystical Bou Jeloud, a Dionysian goat-man.

First "discovered" by American expatriate authors William Burroughs and Paul Bowles in the '50s, the Jajouka musicians came to the attention of the Rolling Stones' Brian Jones in 1967.

Jones' recording of the ensemble, "The Pipes of Pan at Jajouka," initially released in 1969, was reissued on a CD (Point Music) earlier this year. More recently, the ensemble has been heard on recordings by the Rolling Stones, Ornette Coleman and Bill Laswell.

* The Master Musicians of Jajouka perform Saturday at Veterans Wadsworth Theater, Veterans Administration grounds, Brentwood, 8 p.m. $23.50-$26.50. (310) 825-2101.

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Earth Music, L.A.: The Master Musicians of Jajouka program is one of a growing number of Los Angeles events showcasing performers from around the world--not surprising in a city that has become one of the important global communities. At any given time, Farsi, Spanish, Hindi, Mandarin, Swahili, Hungarian--name the language--can be heard somewhere in the city's multiracial, multiethnic, multinational neighborhoods. Each language is the articulation of a society rich with its own forms of creativity, none more expressive or more accessible than music.

And few cities can offer more varied opportunities to experience the length and breadth of that musical creativity. Recent weeks have seen sold-out performances by Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar and Cape Verde's Cesaria Evora. Last weekend, LunaPark in West Hollywood, an important venue for world music, presented performances by the Israeli group Habrera Hativ'it (the Gathering) and Algerian guitarist Pierre Bensusan. This week the great Argentine singer Mercedes Sosa presented her "songs of conscience" in two overflow performances at Wadsworth.

Coming Up: In addition to the Jajoukans, this weekend's events will include Sunday's performance by Greek singer Demis Roussos at the Shrine Auditorium. Next Friday, Kitaro, who often includes authentic kodo drumming among his electronic synthesizers, performs at the Wilshire Theatre. Also Friday, Lebanese singer-composer Marcel Khalife plays the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, and on Nov. 17 the Szalai Hungarian Gipsy Orchestra appears at UCLA's Schoenberg Hall.

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On the Record: For many listeners, world music suggests one of two things: unusual ethnic sounds strung out over repetitious dance rhythms--"world beat"--or an unfamiliar cacophony of didjeridoos, sitars, kotos and djembe drums.

It is, of course, much more. And Ellipsis Arts, for four years the producer of carefully chronicled, attractively packaged recordings from around the world, has just released a three-CD box set, "Planet Soup," that provides an engaging introduction to some of the fascinating cross-cultural collaborations and musical hybrids now taking place in world music. Among dozens of provocative tracks are selections from Native American flutist Carlos Nakai, tango master Astor Piazzola, Finnish vocal group Varttina, Cuban Santeria singer Lazaro Ros and German fusion ensemble Dissidenten. Information: (800) 788-6670.

A two-CD set from Putumanyo World Music, "Women of the World: Celtic" and "Women of the World: International," celebrates the extraordinary global diversity of creative expression in female voices. The Celtic collection features exquisite selections from, among others, Maire Brennan, Mary Black, Maire Breatnach and Fiona Joyce. The international set includes such remarkable divas as Brazil's tempestuous Margareth Menezes, Benin's jazz-tinged Angelique Kidjo, Israeli pop star Yehudit Ravitz and Mozambique's mellow-sounding Amoya.

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Earth Sounds on the Airwaves: Tom Schnabel, for years L.A.'s most dedicated purveyor of world music, continues to present music from every conceivable corner of the planet on his Saturday and Sunday show "Cafe L.A.," on KCRW-FM (89.9) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. . . . Brazilian music, from samba to bossa nova, from MPB ( Musica Popular Brasiliera ) to contemporary pop, is the subject of Sergio Mielniczenko's "The Brazilian Hour" from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays, KXLU-FM (88.9), and "Sounds of Brazil," Thursdays from noon to 2 p.m., KPFK-FM (90.7). Mielniczenko's direct connection to Rio via the Brazilian consulate allows him to present an unparalleled view of the Brazilian music scene.

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Don Heckman's World Music column will appear on the first Friday of each month.

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