Albums overview

Jola – Hidden Gnawa Music in Brussels (2020)

With some forty Gnawa musicians currently resident here, Brussels may legitimately be called the Gnawa capital of Europe. Now, for the first time after twenty years of living in Belgium, JOLA brings them together in an album that reflects the world of the Gnawa of Brussels.

In Moroccan Arabic dialect, the ‘JOLA’ (or ‘tour’) is the term for an essential step in a musician’s initiation to the tagnawit (the ‘way of the Gnawa’). All apprentices follow the teaching of a specific master but their training is not considered over until they have completed a ‘tour’ of the Gnawa alone, travelling from town to town to meet other musicians, learn other techniques and discover other worlds of sound, other ways of thinking. This album takes the listener on a journey to make the acquaintance of the Gnawa from different cities who have settled in Brussels.

The structure of the album reflects that of the līla (‘night’, a Gnawa all-night ritual). The listener accompanies the musicians, step by step, on a spiritual journey of initiation, carried along by the ostinato notes of the guembri. The līla structure is based on a repertoire made up of four main parts, each related to a specific movement: the sacrifice (ḏbīḥa), the drum procession (‘āda), the celebration dances (frāǧa) and the possession trances (mlūk).



Achraf ABANTOR, Jalal ABANTOR, Marwan ABANTOR, Hanane ABDALLAH, Abderrahman BENJAAFAR, Driss BENJAAFAR, Hicham BILALI, Ayoub BOUFOUS, Abdennour DAHOU, Badr EL HERNAT, Driss FILALI, Yassine GHAILANI, Aziz MOUSTAID, Abdelwahid STITOU, Bachir STITOU, Rida STITOU, Mohamed ZAFZAF



Ulad Bambara (The Children of the Bambara)


Arada (The Invitation)


Ftuh ar Rahba (The Opening)

L Kuhal (The Black Ones)

L Musawiyin (The Companions of Moses)

L Humar (The Red Ones)

Mulay Brahim

Mulay Ahmad

As Samawiyin (Those of the Sky)

Ulad L Ghaba (The Children of the Forest)

L Bnat (The Women)




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