You would think that by now, I would have had time to produce a blog about my recent trip to Morocco to attend the Festival des Andalousies Atlantiques in Essaouira. Somehow, moving my home office out of the living room and into a newly-vacated room in the back of the house has eaten up all my spare time.
In the meantime, please check out this report on the Algerian chaabi band El Gusto. I met Safinez Bousbia, the director of the documentary "El Gusto: The Good Feeling," in Essaouira, as well as one of the Jewish-Arab members of El Gusto, the grand master of the pianoriental, Maurice El Medioni. (Go here to see a photo of us.) Here's another good article about the El Gusto project. I was told that El Gusto (the film and the group) will be touring the US in summer '08. Stay tuned!
The album, Abdel Hadi Halo & The El Gusto Orchestra of Algiers, which features only the Muslim Algerian members of El Gusto, is as yet only available as an import. It was released by Damon Albarn's label, Honest Jon's Records. (I posted about the record previously here.)
To get a flavor of the Essaouira festival, see my photos here.