Night Music: The Master Musicians of Joujouka

At the Ornette Coleman tribute I went to this past Thursday, the roll of guest musicians was impressive.

We first saw Laurie Anderson, John Zorn, Bill Laswell and the guy who invented the boxes that the guitars fed through on Metal Machine Music.

Next up were Branford Marsalis and Bruce Hornsby.

Then Thurston Moore and Nels Cline.

Then Ornette’s son Denardo came back out and played drums with a band backing Ravi Coltrane, John Coltrane’s son, who lives in the neighborhood and has become a potent force as a sax player in his own right..

Then Hornsby and Marsalis rejoined the band, along with James Blood Ulmer, the master guitarist, and then finally a couple of guys in green robes came out, the Master Musicians of Joujouka. Just two of them. Descendants presumably of the guys Brian Jones played with and recorded as the Master Musicians (so dubbed by William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin in the 1950s) in 1968, sessions that were released in 1971, after Jones’ death. Ornette Coleman also visited the Master Musicians about that time, which is why they were a good fit in this show.

They do not play the flute, but they do interesting things with pan pipes and drums. The style is a trance music of seeming incoherence, but in its shifting rhythms and simple melodic patterns something new is created, the way two sets of visual patterns superimposed can set off a third animated moire pattern. Something new.

Timothy Leary, at one point, called them a 4,000 year old rock band. Definitely don’t judge this one on the first 16 bars, and don’t expect Going Up the Country. Though that’s what you’re doing. The difference is the country is Morocco.

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