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Axis of Love: Innov Gnawa

Saturday, May 5, 2018 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Location: North Beach Bandshell

8pm, $20 advance tickets available here / $25 day of concert / $50 Axis of Love series pass

Innov Gnawa is a young musical collective dedicated to exploring Morocco’s venerable gnawa music tradition in the heart of New York City. Formed in the summer of 2014 by Moroccan expat Samir LanGus, the group draws on the considerable talents and expertise of Hassan Ben Jaafer, a Maâlem, or master gnawa musician, originally from Fes, Morocco.

Gnawa music is the ritual trance music of Morocco’s black communities, originally descended from slaves and soldiers once brought to Morocco from Northern Mali and Mauritania. Often called “The Moroccan Blues”, gnawa music has a raw, hypnotic power that’s fascinated outsiders as diverse as writer/composer Paul Bowles, jazz giant Randy Weston, rock god Jimi Hendrix, and the contemporary artist Bonobo. The music is utterly singular, played on an array of unique instruments — from the lute-like sintir that the Maâlem uses to call the tune, to the metal qarqaba (castinets) with which the kouyos (chorus) keep time and pound out clattering, hypnotic rhythms.

In 2018, this annual series returns in collaboration with Miami Dade College’s MDC Live Arts.  It invites audiences into a meditative space through instrumental, traditional and innovative sounds from the Middle East. With support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge and the Doris Duke Foundation, The Rhythm Foundation and MDC Live Arts create an opportunity to build a connection with cultures primarily in the public eye for conflict zones. Victoria Rogers, Vice President of Arts for Knight Foundation, said: “Few things can bring people together like the arts. Events like this series are a great prism for exploring our and other cultures, and for finding the threads that unite us all.”

In an immersive environment, the audience surrounds performers in an in-the-round stage setup. The evening also features culture-specific, traditional snacks and sweets to engage the audience in a multi-sensory experience.