Gabacho Maroc is one of the newest most exciting bands of world fusion of the moment. Formed by French drummer Vincent Thomas, this 8-piece band with musicians from Morocco, Algeria and France emerged in 2013 after various experiences as a jazz quintet. Contaminated by the heat of Morocco, the spirit of gnawa and the rhythms of Africa, they have since toured on 4 continents, playing almost 150 concerts inclusing 70 world/jazz music festivals. Their second album – Tawassol (connections)- will be released in the beginning of 2018 under the French label Cristal.
”When 8 French, Moroccan and Algerian musicians bang their bendirs, drums, keyboards, darbukas, riqs and djembes, clack their karkabus, scratch their guembris, blow their saxes, sing and dance onstage fusing Gnawa, Afro, Berber, trance, jazz and electronica, you discover a brand new musical world connecting the West to the desert!” Montreal Jazz
All started at Musikene, the Higher School of Music of the Basque Country, where Vincent Thomas was studying jazz. In those days, he was sharing a flat with another drummer, Nacho Megina, who asked him to join for a short stay in Morocco. They went to Essaouira, bought some records, got together with gnawa musicians, and there it was. Vincent was contaminated by the virus of Morocco, where he returned regularly to deep his knowledge of the various local types of music.
In the same period, he had formed a jazz quintet with other students from Musikene – Gabacho Connection featuring Charley Rose (alto sax), Willy Muñoz (keyboards), Eric Oxandaburru (bass), and Antonio Lizana (tenor sax). Vincent was somehow not completely satisfied with the result. The music was good and there was a fine feeling among the musicians. However, Vincent had the idea of a band that was able to go beyond the boundaries of classic jazz, make people feel good, move their feet and body, and celebrate the diversity of cultures. In brief, he wanted to combine the depth and musicality of jazz with the colorfulness, sparkle and energy of world music.
....TO WORLD MUSIC
At some point, the band decided to include musicians from Morocco. Musically it sounded great already. It was counting without the bureaucracy, which made difficult for those musicians to get visas for playing in Europe. In the end, the band went in touch with two musicians of Essaouira living and working in Europe. Gabacho Maroconnection was born! It featured the five members of the original jazz quintet, plus Hamid Moumen (vocals, guembri), Jawad Jadli (percussion, vocals), and Fred Faure (percussion, ngoni). After 40 dates in Spain and southern France, the new band went into the studio and recorded their debut album. Bissara was released in September 2014 under their own label – Label Oued.
Gabacho Maroc’s first album, Bissara earned the group a nomination for the All African Music Awards in 2015. The single “Moussaoui” rapidly attained 40,000 views on YouTube, and was selected by the UK label “World Music Network” for its Rough Guide CD compilation, The Best Arabic Music You’ve Never Heard. Somehow the band had good cards to start boosting their career. They were also active promoting themselves and booking concert dates. In 2015, they were touring successfully Morocco, India and Latin America. In the beginning of 2016, they changed their name to Gabacho Maroc that was easier to use and remember.
Since then, the band has enthusiastically played on four continents. In July 2017, after an exciting tour in Morocco (Les Nuits du Ramadan) the band had its 'première' in North America, playing Montreal Jazz, Sunfest and Afrofest. Between touring and recording material for the new album Tawassol, to be released in January 2018 in France, the band has demonstrated that they are taking their project seriously. Long life to Gabacho Maroc!
For pics and news from GM Canada Tour, check their Facebook page.
(Except France, Spain and South America)
Eric E. van Monckhoven
article posted by:Eric van Monckhoven, Music4You + World Music Lab