Sunday 21 January 2018

Othman El Kheloufi at Jazz Sous L'Arganier - Essaouira - Xmas 2017

Picture the scene - we, the audience - sitting on very comfortable chairs (always a plus as far as I'm concerned) in the beautifully restored riad called Dar Souira, when Othman El Kheloufi appears on the stage with his group of musicians and the energy and enthusiasm he generates is palpable. And then they start playing jazz but not as you know it. (The short video above was actually one of the more subdued pieces.) Everyone is jiggling to the music and I'm sure we would have danced if there had been enough room.

Othman is a fascinating musician unlike any I've come across before and his decision to focus on jazz, with the saxaphone as his main instrument, is not the usual path for a Moroccan musician. But he is not just a muscian - he is the teller of stories.

Othman did not originally want to be a musician and his CV is as eclectic as they come: a lover of football, a maker of furniture, a dancer, an artist, a scenographer, an accountant, a manager. Plus, he is a Professor at The Higher Institute of Drama, Art and Cultural Animation and also at The National School of Architecture.

For him, it just happened that music became such an important part of his life. It all kicked off when he took to the stage with the Lebanese jazzman Ibrahim Maalouf at the Jazzablanca Festival in 2014 and the two of them improvised together. And since then, he has played concerts not just in Morocco but also internationally.

Although he plays the clarinet and the ghayta ( a sort of oboe played by snake charmers in Jamaa-el-Fna Square in Marrakech), he chose the saxaphone as his main instrument because he felt that it was the instrument which most complemented his voice. That he is self-taught tells you something of his drive and passion, and during performances, he often switches from one instrument to another.

His songs are inspired by everyday life going back to childhood and reflect emotions, stories and sensations he has experienced and before each number he gives a brief description of his inspiration for that particular song.

His music, he says in an interview with Bouthaina Azami, is 'halfway between jazz, world music and pure Moroccan and popular tradition. He calls it a 'jazzy' approach - 'beldi' jazz where the audience can both dance and go into a trance.

His fellow musicians were:-

Yassir Zaitat
Philip Holzapfel
Martine Labbe
Oussama Mougar
Oussama Chtouki
Imad Innouri 


All in all it was a very exciting performance.

You can watch and listen to the performance on this playlist, recorded by, and here's the opening number:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Testing. JK