Intermission - Ode to Moroccan Tape Stash: Mustapha Baqbu - المعلم مصطفى باقبو.

Hi there.

Tim Abdellah, the owner of Moroccan Tape Stash blog has done a great deal of goodness to all that is Moroccan music. His blog is a cache-reservoir full of old, rare Compact Cassettes that few in the west (or, anywhere else for that matter), has ever given a listen to.

In short words: he has taken upon himself the job of resurrecting these sounds from neglect-town, upping these cassettes without relent year after year... and as a gesture of mentioning my humble-pie-to-his-wedding-cake blog here, I shall humbly dedicate this swift, spur-of-the-moment Intermission post to his efforts.

You rule, Tim!

Maâlem  Mustafa Baqbu (also spelled Mustapha Bakbou or Mustafa Bokbou - مصطفى باقبو):

Mustapha Baqbu/Bakbou in the 70's.

Baqbu in 1975.
Born in Marrakesh, Morocco in 1954 to a large family of gnawi-sufists and zaouia players, his father El-Ayachi Baqbu taught him how to play the qaraqeb at first, then the santir (this three-stringed, plucked-lute-like instrument which has a rectangular shape and many names like sintir, guembri/gunibri/genbri, hajhouj/hejhouj... etc). His mother was also a moqadema, or leader in trance-sufi rituals, and so were his two older brothers Ahmad and Aziz Baqbu who as established players, got called around along with their father and Mustapha to play at times like jathbha (invitational ritual for Muluk), dabha (sacrificial ritual for Muluk), and other celebrations and festivals in Marrakesh.
Baqbu playing in Casablanca, 00's.
Baqbu wasn't interested in playing music, let alone the santir, but his father insisted and got him out of school at 14 to join his brothers. He played first with his brother Ahamd's band (ferqat Ahmad Baqbu), then went solo and later on played along with Moroccan gnawi-revivalist bands like Jil-Jilala in 1984. In 1970, he was nicknamed a Maâlem (معلم: Master), for he earned this title because of his voice that suited the religious singing of master gnawists. He was also credited as the first gnawist to fuse gnawa music with western sounds in the 90's.

     Gnawa - قناوة

Gnawa music can be dissected into seven 'Mahals', or maqams: El-Mersawi Eshini (a profane, D'jin-names-calling introductory maqam/mahal), L'Bidh (Whites), L'Zourg (Blues), L'Houmr (Reds), L'Kouhl (Dark Blues), L'Khodr (Greens), L'Soufr (Yellows). The number seven is known as a number of power (gnawists read this the same as the number of verses in the first sura of the Quran claimed to have some 'keys' to their lost world). The colours are actually those in which the muluk (daemonic beings, or D'Jins), appear in the trance itself at the Leila (nights, or sometimes daytime celebrations called derdebas), and maoulud (the birth-day celebration of the Prophet Mohammed). These entities are invisible to humans because they endure at the extreme ends of white-light (read: ultra-violet, infra-red).

Baqbu with Jil-Jilala, 00s.
Mustapha played many places around the world and toured Europe (France, Belgium, Holland, England) since 1974 when Katrine Forsitti invited him to play some concerts there, and of course in 1975 as part of Jil Jilala. His current four-members band 'Arrajah Bi'Allah' (Hope In God) played in 2010 along with Carlos Santana in May of that year, and is still playing around Casablanca these days. He's Morocco's best gnawist and a leader in his community of spiritual singers and masters or, maâlems.

This is Mustapha Baqbu's album (Moulai Abdel-Qadir), which I ripped just now (I had it on a CD-R a long time ago), as a dedicatory mini-post for Tim Abdella whose post was endearing enough for me to give something in return. A small dedication, 'sall.

Lots of respect, Tim.

(Mind, but in the meantime, I shall get busy with putting together the hugest ever Lebanese 80's Pop compilation that will see the light soon here at the Audiotopia).

Rawk awn!



tim abdellah said...

Llah i3tik essa7a, ya Hammer Man!

Hammer said...

Allah yi3tik el3afya, Tim. This is nothing compared to your stash. Big ups!


tim abdellah said...

Ya Hammer - Thx again for the Baqbou! The tunes appear to be incorrectly labeled by the folks who published the CD (except for track 3). Here are my track titles from listening:

1) Jilali Boualem - Jilali Dawi Hali - Ana b-Llah u bik a Moulay Abdelkader
2) Rebbi Moulay (negsha) - Ba Blali - Sidi ya Rasul Allah - L'afu Moulana - Rijal Allah ya Nabina - Nabina Selliw 3alih - Mekkawi Nabi Allah - Ya Llah Ya Nabina - L'afu Rijal Allah
3) Allah ya Bu Derbala
4) Bouhala - Bouhali
5) Chabakro (negsha)

The odd track here, for me is #2. For the most part, it follows the entire sweep of the Ftih er-Rahba suite, with the exception of the first song. The suite typically begins with a song called "Rebbi Moulay". However the "Rebbi Moulay" here is a different one, from the Negsha suite. It's typical for Gnawa to quote one couplet from the Ftih ar-Rahba version in the Negsha version before finishing the song. Here, however, Maalem Baqbou pivots on this quote and proceeds to the Ftih ar-Rahba, then completes the whole suite. Very strange.

Apologies for my always inconsistent tranliteration...