Sunday, August 30, 2009

Statements from Ahmed Attar/ Master Musicians of Joujouka/Master Musicians of Jajouka re Bachir Attar's false claims and the Master Musicians

Boujeloud in Joujouka at Master Musicians of Joujouka
Brian Jones 40th Anniversary Festival 29 July 2008.

For the first time a leader of the Master Musicians of Joujouka/Jajouka answers questions about Bachir Attar who claims to be the leader of the Master Musicians. Ahmed Attar, leader since 1999, answers questions put to him in his native Moroccan Arabic. translation and interview conducted in Joujouka 5 August 2009 by Mohamed Karbach.

Ahmed Attar drumming in Jajoujka/Joujouka/Zahjouka in the 1970s fom the Master Musicians of Jajouka/Joujouka 1980 European tour brochure.

Hello every body I'm Ahmed Attar. I'm ready to answer these questions:

Bachir Attar and his manager, Cherie Nutting state that he is the one true and hereditary leader of the Master Musicians. They say he inherited his leadership from his father. This would mean his father was also hereditary leader?

Ahmed Attar: Bachir Attar has gathered retired people (military who play Gaita) from Ksar el Kebir and outside, and has become their leader. He has no connection with us, the Mallimin/Masters who live in Joujouka / Jajouka. (Editor's Note: Ksar El Kebir is this is the nearest city to Joujouka / Jajouka / Jajouka, about 20 km form the village in the plains below the Ahl Srif Mountains)

How do the Master Musicians chose a leader?

Ahmed Attar: For many years the musicians chose the leader with the agreement of anyone in the group for a period of 1 year; or more if he worked well, or they change him for another one.

Who were the last five or ten leaders of the musicians and when were they elected?

Ahmed Attar:

The leaders were:
Elghailani Mohamed (dead), (1956),
Zekiken Ahmed (dead), (1958),
Mejdoubi Mohamed(dead), (1964),
Attar Ayachi (dead), 1965 (Editors Note: father of current leader Ahmed Attar),
Twimi Ahmed(dead), (1967),
Ghailani Mefedal(1971)
Abdeslam Attar (Djinnoun Bachir's father, in 1978 leader for 3 years ).
Attar Abdeslam Ali (alive he has 98 years old)(1983),
Attar Mohamed (dead) 1990
, and me Attar Ahmed (called Titi). 1999
(editor's note dates are year of election to leadership)

plus who was never the leader but he a big musician who works with us Retoubi Mefedal (alive)

Mallim Ali Abdeslam El Attar leads the song on his left Mallim Radi El Khalil, Abdeslam Mefedel grandson of former leader Ghailani Mefedal (leader 1968-1978) and Mallim Mustapha Attar. Photo Frank Rynne 5 June 2009

Does leadership pass from father to son?

Ahmed Attar: The leadership doesn't pass from father to son because we find several leaders and their sons have no relation with this music but if the son wants to be a musician he can , but not a leader automatically.

What does the leader do?

Ahmed Attar: The leader has to be: clear, confident, skilful and know how to promote the music, and to discuss with people who want to celebrate ceremonies. He is the speaker for the musicians.

Is Bachir Attar the hereditary leader?

Ahmed Attar: Bachir exploits his English language (because none of us musicians speak English) to claim to be a leader with power ,with help of his ex-wife, but no one in Joujouka trusts in Bachir because he stole their money. The big manager was Hamri the painter of Joujouka / Jajouka / Jajouka .In this time all the musicians worked together with Hamri not Bachir. One day Bachir with his brother forced Hamri to make him give them contracts which Hamri had made with the Westerners. They forced Hamri to sign blank sheets of paper. From this day the musicians of Joujouka / Jajouka have no relation with Bachir. (Editors note: This attack took place 27 December 1995)

How does Bachir Attar hurt the traditional music of the village of Joujouka / Jajouka Does he play the same music as the Masters in the village? in style and quality. How is his music different from the music played by the Masters in the village?

Ahmed Attar: When Bachir uses other instruments, he hurts the spiritual music. The Masters Musicians of Joujouka / Jajouka play only the pipes and drum (ghaita and tbel) with no instruments added. When you add other instruments, the music loses its quality.

Is he considered a true Mallim/Master by the Master Musicians?

Ahmed Attar: He isn't because in his group there are some musicians who play better than Bachir. He leads them because he speaks English and gives them some work.

Can the musicians explain why Bachir Attar says they are fake, or impostors?

Ahmed Attar: He says that because he wants to be the only representative of the music of Joujouka / Jajouka so as to exploit the Master Musicians name and to gain money. That's clear because the only one in Joujouka / Jajouka who has a big car (4/4) and a big house and a big account in the bank is Bachir Attar.

What would the Masters like to say to people who claim Bachir Attar is the true leader of the Musicians?

Ahmed Attar: Whoever wants to know more can come to Joujouka / Jajouka to see Bachir’s house and where the others musicians live. We are poor and he became rich because he takes our money. In Joujouka / Jajouka no one talks with Bachir. He is alone. Who can lead people when the people are boycotting them???

How much damage has Bachir Attar's behaviour done to the village?

Ahmed Attar: He makes damage in the media abroad, but in Joujouka / Jajouka all the people know him. We play in religious and civil ceremonies, in festivals, for parties of the KING that's why here in Morocco they don't call Bachir Attar to play they call us.

Mallim Ali Abdeslam El Attar leader of the Master Musicians 1983-1990. Mallim Ali is the oldest musician in Joujouka today and played on Brian Jones presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka. Ornette Coleman's Dancing in my Head, Master Musicians of Jajouka, and more. This portrait was taken by Jill Furmanovsky at the Brian Jones 40th Anniversary festival in Joujouka.

The letter from the Southbank Centre states that the musicians who played in London are the same ones who played with Ornette Coleman in January 1973. Is this true? Who in the village alive today played with Ornette Coleman in 1973?

Ahmed Attar: This not true because all of them are Dead. There is only one musician still alive in Joujouka / Jajouka who played with Ornette Coleman in 1973 (Ali Abdeslam Attar, you can come to ask him, he did not go to London this year).

Ahmed Attar 5 August 2009

Interview conducted and translated by Mohamed Karbach

Additional Documentation
1/ Mohamed Hamri's Open Letter of Protest 1995

Editor's Note:

In recent years there has been a lot of misinformation about the Master Musicians of Joujouka who have also been known as Master Musicians of Jajouka, which the musicians have not commented on. The Masters who live and play in their village do not speak languages other than their native Riffian Arabic or Djebli.

For the first time ever the current leader of the Master Musicians Ahmed Attar has answered a series of questions which address the issue of leadership of the Masters and also the claims of his first cousin, Bachir Attar, who records and tours as Master Musicians of Jajouka featuring Bachir Attar and Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar claiming to be the leader of the Master Musicians of Jajouka.

In order to shed some light on these issues a series of questions were sent to the Masters and an interview was conducted and translated by Mohamed Karbach who is a son in law of a Master Musician.

The above statements show that at no time in his life was Bachir Attar the accepted or elected leader of the Master Musicians of Joujouka/Jajouka.

In the period he claims to have taken over the leadership the leader was Mallim Ali Attar and he was followed in the role by Mohamed Attar, and then the current leader Ahmed Attar from 1999.

The crux of Bachir Attar's false claims to be the the leader of the Master Musicians of Jajouka are that he is the hereditary leader and that the leadership passed by tradition from father to son. The list above, as well as the clear answers from Ahmed Attar on the issue of hereditary leadership, present a very different history to the one passed off by Bachir Attar, his wife Cherrie Nurtting and their business assocaites. No such hereditary leadership exists in Joujouka/Jajouka.

The leader in the 1950s Zekiken, was the the uncle of Hamri who brought Brion Gysin, Brian Jones, Timothy Leray, Robert Palmer, William Burroughs, Paul Bowles, John Giorno and more to the village and put the music on the map. Mejdoubi Mohamed was from the powerful Mujdoubi family who produced some of the hardest men and greatest rhiata players in the village. Many of the leaders since 1956 were from the Attar family and they include the Attar Ayachi, uncle of Bachir Attar and father of the current leader Ahmed, Abdeslam Attar, Bachir's father and uncle of the current leader Ahmed, and Ali Abdelslam Attar the oldest musician in Joujouka.

It is clear that the claims made in the press and elsewhere by Bachir Attar to be leader of the Master Musicians of Jajouka have no factual basis.

The Master Musicians acknowledge that he does lead a troupe of ex-soldiers who play instruments and who live in the nearby city Ksar El Kebir . This group is currently known as "The Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar". They are not the Sufi Mallimin or Master Musicians, of the village and community of Jajouka/Joujouka/Zahjouka.

Ahmed Attar in the Sanctuary of Sidi Ahmed Schiech, Jajouka/Joujouka/Zahjouka, July 29 2008.

Ahmed Attar (beside tomb) and guests including l-r Gordon Campbell, Maneau, Jonathan Amar, Joachim Montessuis, and Lisa Blanning, , at the tomb of Sidi Ahmed Scheich 6 June 2009. Master Musicians Festival 2009. Photo by Frank Rynne

Saturday, August 22, 2009

EDDIE WOODS BACK IN NO TIME: Jajouka, Bou Jeloud and the Moroccan Magic of Brion Gysin

Brion Gysin Boujeloud at Joujouka 1958

BACK IN NO TIME: Jajouka, Bou Jeloud and the Moroccan Magic of Brion Gysin

“I'm not here to put anyone down. I'd just like to make a few suggestions.”
Ira Cohen

Dear Eddie,

I first heard the Master Musicians of Jajouka in 1950. It was at a festival outside of Tangier on the beach, a small harbor that went back to Phoenician times... I was there with Paul Bowles. Paul, of course, was an established composer before making his name as a writer and also an archivist of North African music. Anyway, it was Paul’s idea that I go to Morocco, he had bought a little house there and all. And I heard some music at that festival and was so taken by it, so enchanted, that I said to Paul, “I want to hear that music every day for the rest of my life. I want to hear it every day all day long.”

For sure, there were many other kinds of extraordinary music offered to one, mostly of the Ecstatic Brotherhoods who enter into trance, such as Jilala. But above all of that I had heard this funny little music, and I said, “Ah! That’s my music! I must find out where it comes from.” So I stayed and within a year I found that it came from Jajouka, a village in the Rif mountains where on several occasions during the year, whenever a festival comes round, the entire population of the Ahl Serif valley pours across the fields and wends its way, in procession, up the mountainside.

I mean, there would always be (and still is) a small group of the Masters traveling somewhere in the valley to animate a wedding or to honor some visiting dignitary. And my restaurant, The 1001 Nights, came about entirely because of them, it was their idea, as a way for me to stay in Morocco, hear their music all the time and earn my living. They said, “Why don’t you open a cafĂ© or something in Tangier? Then we’ll come down, make the music and we can split the money.” Which is how it worked until 1956, when Moroccan independence wiped me out practically overnight... But I knew the Musicians for nearly 35 years, right up till the end, many of them in intimate daily contact.

Now in Jajouka when they play, and those things go on for seven days and nights, blue kif smoke rises and drops in veils and the air is flooded with this marvelous music, very magical, tirelessly executed by the Master Musicians, more than twenty strong. Each night they play 10-hour nonstop sessions as a cloud of dancing boys shimmers and sashays around a huge bonfire. The crowd whoops and hollers approval, while the women, all of them dressed in white, are heaped up on a hillside, their heads thrown back and mouths open, ululating to the heavens.

At some point a sense of urgency enters the music: the drums thunder and the shrill, almost bagpipe-sounding blare of the rhaitas (a double reed oboe-like instrument, similar to the Indian shanai) becomes like sheet lightning in the minds of the spectators. Higher and higher goes the music, heralding the appearance of a young man dressed in goat skins with a huge straw hat tied around his blackened face and carrying long sycamore branches. Chosen for the task since childhood, he is suddenly transformed, a young villager no longer. Bou Jeloud is there, the Great God Pan.

Oh, there are many confirmed stories of the Musicians on tour, even in Europe, picking off (as it were) unsuspecting members of the audience and--using only their horns, their Pipes of Pan--making these people dance, literally forcing them to, controlling them. But when Bou Jeloud dances alone in Jajouka, his Musicians blow a sound like the earth sloughing off its skin. When you shiver like someone just walked on your grave, that’s him; that’s Bou Jeloud, the Father of Fear, the Father of Skins, Pan...

If you want to disappear, come round for private lessons. Remember? OK, you’ve just had yours. Back in no time.


This particular presentation of Jajouka music is from a live performance in France and comes in cassette form. Published by Staaltape (Amsterdam), it is in some ways well done and in other respects a most unprofessional job. The nicely-printed cassette cover gives no information at all about the Musicians, the performance...nada. The cassette itself is unlabeled and has its tabs intact; not only does it look like a blank cassette, it can easily be recorded over by accident. Ditto for the accompanying cassette, an interesting but incomplete 40-odd minute interview with Brion that also tells nothing of Jajouka (there is a brief 'reference in passing,' bas) and which is recorded on only one side, the other side being (in)conveniently empty. Ah, and no times are given for the music tape, although my stopwatch assures me it’s 54 minutes. Both cassettes (+ plastic covers, thank goodness) come in a plain wooden box with a slide-off top, along with a well made hardbound book, Back In No Time: Some aspects of Brion Gysin and suggestions for use, by A.M. McKenzie. The title phrase is from a small sign Brion used to hang on the outside of his door whenever he left the house, whether for five minutes or five weeks. The whole shebang (this is a limited edition of 500 copies, by the way) was selling for the equivalent of ca. €18.00 when first released in 1989.

Brion Gysin, who died on July 13th 1986, discovered the cut-up method of writing. Indeed, he introduced William Burroughs to the technique. The above letter (from Brion) was received by this reviewer on May 8th 1989. Back in no time. Get it?
Full size image here
THE MASTER MUSICIANS OF JOUJOUKA (Staaltape documentary series)
(Office) Staalplaat, P.O. Box 11453, 1001 GL Amsterdam, The Netherlands
(Shop) Staalplaat, Flughafenstrasse 38, D-12053, Berlin, Germany
(Tel.) +49 30 2005 4697
front left to right Miles, Frank Rynne, Eddie Woods reading 9 Rue Git le Couer by Harold Norse at the William S. Burroughs Naked Lunch @50 celebrations outside the Beat Hotel, 9 Rue Git le Couer , Paris, July 1 2009.

Text and Brion Gysin letter © Eddie Woods
Music © Master Musicians of Joujouka
The above review and letter were published at the time the staalplaat 2 cassette set was published in 1989. the 2 cassette limited edition of 500 was presented in a wooden box. special thanks to our friends Eddie Woods and Andrew McKenzie.

Master Musicians of Joujouka live in Paris 1980 download

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jack Sargeant ¨Who Let The Mice In?¨interview with Master Musicians and more

Who Let The Mice In?

A variant of this appeared in the Fortean Times in 2007.

The Master Musicians of Joujouka are steeped in mythology. Introduced to the west through the artist, writer and beat affiliate Brion Gysin, who saw in their music an accompaniment to his ethereal paintings and the spinning hypnogogic magic of the Dreammachine. The music adding to the multi-coloured flashes that played across his eyelids as he sat facing the spinning Dreammachine - the only piece of art you look at with your eyes closed - the patterns transforming into shapes, the music taking him across oceans, to other worlds and transformed realities.

Lost Rolling Stone Brian Jones famously recorded the Master Musicians and in the ensuing years musicians ranging from Ornette Coleman to Bill Lazwell to the Islamic Diggers have collaborated with the villagers.
The Master Musicians’ music echoes back through generations, intimately linked to the village community, culture, and their saint the Sufi mystic Sidi Achmed Scheich, who one-thousand years ago heard in their music and circular breathing techniques melodies that could cure illness. As Master Musician Abdelslam Eertoubi states, "Joujouka has the sanctuaries of four saints. If you have a bad back or sore bones you visit Sidi Ghari's tomb and lie on the stonewall. This will help. My family are descended from Sidi Achmed Schiech who founded the village a long time ago. This is his land. He is the Cultivator with Lions and Healer of Crazy Minds. He used a lion to plough the land. People still come if they are disturbed in the mind and we play music of Sidi Achmed Schiech for them. They sit in his sanctuary and it helps them.”
Read Full piece on Jack´s Blog Here

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Naked Lunch @50 special event in Chicago in support the new documentary William S. Burroughs: A Man Within directed by Yony Leyser

Please support this important event.

Please join Academy Award Nominee, actor Peter Weller for an evening of art, readings, happenings and performances to support the new documentary William S. Burroughs: A Man Within directed by Yony Leyser. It will feature a rare exhibition of William Burroughs' paintings and drawings on paper, and a special preview screening of the documentary trailer.

5:30 pm to 9:30 pmFriday, August 28, 2009 TH!NKART SALON 1530 N. Paulina, Suite F, Chicago, IL Map it!

Live music by Maya Jensen Sumptuous cuisine catered by Chef Daniel Mejia

Open bar serving Burroughs' special elixirs

Peter Weller Star of David Cronenberg's film Naked Lunch (1991) -
Penny Arcade Andy Warhol Superstar, Writer and Performance Artist
Anne Waldman Poet & Co-Founder (with Allen Ginsberg) of The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics
Hal Willner Musical Director, Saturday Nigh Live,
recorded Burroughs, Dead City Radio (1990) -
James Grauerholz William S. Burroughs Estate Executor-
John Girono Poet, Giorno Poetry Systems -
John Long Author, Drugs and the Beats -
Kurt Henner Author, Encyclopedia of Beat Literature -
Tony Trigilio Author, Allen Ginsberg's Buddhist Poetics -
Dr. Bill Ayers Distinguished Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago-
Davis Schneiderman Editor, Retaking the Universe: Williams S. Burroughs in the Age of Globalization

More at

AFTER PARTY WITH LIVE MUSIC 9:30 pm Penny Arcade, David Daniell & Douglas McCombs (Tortoise, Thrill Jocky, FPP), and DJs at the STOP SMILING Storefront Open Bar 1371 N. Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL Just Around the corner from Th!nkArt in Wicker Park The spirit of William S. Burroughs will come to escort you over. TICKETS ! Donations in support of the documentary, accepted online at for $60 or at the door for $75. Price includes main event and after party. For more information call 773.252.2294. SPACE IS LIMITED, RESERVE YOUR TICKETS TODAY!More at

See also the Official Naked Lunch @50 web site