9th Gnaoua World Music Festival

El Kasri (L) accompanied by a Gnaoua group from Essaouira

Wish I was there! This from the Maghrebia site:

Essaouira to host 9th Gnaoua World Music Festival

The increasingly popular Gnaoua World Music Festival of Essaouira will include traditional Gnaoua, blues, American and European jazz, Qawwali, and electronic music in its 9th edition.

By Hassan Benmehdi for Magharebia in Casablanca – 21/06/06

The Gnaoua World Music Festival has achieved a passionate following in Essaouira since debuting in 1998. For the 9th edition scheduled for 22-25 June, organisers promise to meet public expectations in Morocco and abroad.

Organisers are seeking to go back to basic musical roots by presenting acts harkening to the sources of jazz and blues, with the goal of offering fans of the increasingly popular event a good time. In 2005, more than 400,000 people attended the festival.

The Gnaoua World Music Festival will honour the geniuses of jazz and blues — two types of music that were well represented in previous festivals and are considered complementary with the traditional music of Gnaoua masters.

The opening act will feature legendary American guitarist Pat Metheny, who has dedicated himself for 20 years to taking jazz off the beaten path into the genres of world music, techno, heavy metal, and flamenco.

Other acts include the quartet of renowned Romanian jazz saxophonist Stefano Di Battista, American pianist and electric jazz enthusiast Scott Kinsey, American blues artist Correy Harris, Guinean kora master Ba Cissoko, Malian Ali Keita, Brasilian percussionists Luis Conte and Zé Luis Nascimiento, Algerian Gâada Diwane, and Qawwali musicians Mehr and Sher Ali and their ten Pakistani singers.

Gnaoua music will be represented by 15 masters including Mahmoud Guinea, Hamid El Kasri, Omar Hayat, Mustapha Bakbou, and Abderrahim Benthami. The older masters will support the future generation represented by Hassan Boussou, son of Hamida Boussou, and Hicham Merchane, son of Abdelkébir Merchane.

Acts representing a fusion of traditional and electronic music will be held on the Essaouira beachfront. Disc jockeys U-Cef, a Londoner of Moroccan origin, and Click of Paris will emcee the festivities.

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