Oren Fried, Esti Kenan Ofri and Armand Sabah


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"Kol Oud Tof's first program "Gazelle" brings together four different traditions belonging to Moroccan Jewish musical traditions and repertoires - Spanish women’s songs from Northern Morocco sung in their original language, songs in the Jewish Moroccan Arabic dialect, Moroccan Jewish liturgical music and classical Andalusian songs sung in Hebrew.

Gazelle CD cover
Gazelle CD cover

Kol Oud Tof first program and c.d. - ”Gazelle” brings together for the first time four different Moroccan Jewish musical repertoires which until now have been presented separately: Spanish women’s songs from northern Morocco, sung in their original language (Haketia, the Ladino of the Jews of northern Morocco); songs in the Jewish Moroccan Arabic dialect; Moroccan Jewish liturgical music; and classical Andalusian songs in Arabic, a tradition which finds its principal expression in bakkashot (“petitions”).

Without trying to be “authentic” to the point of slavishly imitating original and traditional performances of the pieces which make up the CD, the members of the trio have successfully managed to recreate the shared mood of these four repertoires.

What are the components of this mood? First of all, there are the distinctive rhythms which pervade and suffuse pieces which on first hearing appear quite different from one another. Whether fixed or free-flowing, the rhythms of Moroccan music are characterized by syncopation, which deceives the ear and never ceases to surprise the listener.

Pieces which have no apparent fixed rhythm are reinterpreted here in such a way as to reveal underlying levels of rhythm which remain hidden in traditional interpretations of liturgical music (e.g. track 9) or of Spanish romantic ballads in Moroccan guise (e.g. track 6).

Apart from the rhythmic similarities, this CD also reveals the melodic parallels between the four repertoires. These have their origins in the modal system which underlies most Moroccan Jewish instrumental and vocal music and is common to all these songs - be they men’s or women’s, sacred or profane.

An additional stylistic element which finds expression here is the multi-vocal improvisation technique characteristic both of Moroccan sophisticated urban styles and of rural Berber music (e.g. tracks 3 and 8).

This CD will help to introduce a wider audience to the impressive variety displayed in the musical traditions of Moroccan Jewry. It reveals the basic shared musical elements present in the unconscious of most Jews from the Maghreb; it would not be inappropriate to recall here that these elements are common to the music of Moroccan Jews and Muslims alike."

Professor Edwin Seroussi, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem