Chrifi Hassan el Oujdi

There are certain voices and instrumental timbres that I find inherently satisfying, almost regardless of their musical articulation.  I am always moved by the buzz of Ismael Rivera's voice and the warm embrace of Nat King Cole's.  I never tire of the fuzzy growl of Ben Webster's tenor saxophone or the rubbery bounce of U. Srinivas' electric mandolin.  This long list includes the throaty rasp of the ghasba.  The dry keen of this reed flute just pulls at my heart.

Today's post features a wonderful cassette from Oujda, the capital of the Oriental region in north-eastern Morocco, just fifteen kilometres from the border with Algeria.  Chrifi Hassan is one of the more popular artists from Oujda.  He has released over a dozen recordings, most of them with 'modern' orchestras that could be generically classified as Reggada--the catchall term for music from the north-eastern Moroccan cities of Nador, Berkane, and Oujda.  To my ears, most of Chrifi Hassan's recordings are musically indistinguishable from the majority of the releases produced in the region; that is to say, nothing special.

Chrifi Hassan has, however, released two cassettes of rootsier music.  Both of these recordings feature a stripped down group consisting of two percussionists and a ghasba.  These recordings are wonderful.  Here, for your listening pleasure, is my favorite of the two.  In this cassette, Chrifi Hassan sings of unrequited love and betrayal, his suffering echoed by the desolation of the ghasba.

Download Chrifi Hassan el Oujdi 

I have exhaustively searched the arabic and french language internets for more detailed information on Chrifi Hassan, as well as called all of the phone numbers listed on the J-Card.  All for not.  I still don't know much about Chrifi Hassan.  Can anyone help?  Perhaps Tim at moroccantapestash?