Boomkat Product Review:
Fabled Gnawa master Maleem Mahmoud Ghania and Pharoah Sanders on a momentous meeting of minds in Morocco, 1994, a total mindmelt variously hailed as one of the most important albums of Gnawa trance music and among the most important percussive albums of the era, a sort of last blast of the c.20th’s vital, distinctive, and transcendent styles. Unavailable on vinyl until recently - and finally, thankfully available again.
Originally released in 1994 on Bill Laswell's Axiom imprint, ‘The Trance Of Seven Colors’ pairs master Gnawa musician Maleem Mahmoud Ghania - son of Gnawa master Maleem Boubker Ghania, - with jazz fire breather Pharoah Sanders - collaborator of Alice & John Coltrane - in a timeless fusion of disciplines. Recorded in intimate settings at a private house in Essaouria, Morocco, on the Atlantic coast, the session captures the incandescent energy of Gnawa healing music and the electrifying beauty of spiritual jazz at a peak of their combined powers. Both lead performers bring a lifetime of skill to their part, no doubt enhanced by the massed backdrop of female choral singers, and a battery of percussionists on karkabas, handclaps, and tambourine (tbel), as well as plucky guimbri that underline and propel the leads’ elemental forces.
Newly remastered by Rashad Becker, the results faithfully relay the feel of the room, where bandleader Ghania alternates between percussion, the three-stringed bass lute known as a guimbri, and lead vox, as Sanders responds with sparing and full-lunged blasts of tenor sax heat. One can practically feel the starry night and white walls of the city watching into the room as they switch from joyous original works such as ‘ La Allah Dayim Moulenah’ to traditionals like ‘Bala Moussaka’ with its levitating bassline, or the swingeing ‘Hamdouchi’ where Sanders’ sax weaves in between their sharper horns, to Sanders leading the ensemble on a haunting tribute to jazz guitar pioneer Sonny Sharrock, who had passed away only weeks prior to the recording.
It’s also highly notable for the appearance of Gnawa master Maleem Boubker Ghania, whose vocal brings an age old depth to another highlight ‘Moussa Berkiyo / Koulibaliy Beriah La’Foh’, with Sanders acting as windburn djinn spirit to the father and son.