MP3 Aza - Marikan
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WORLD: African, WORLD: World Fusion
AZA is the letter "Z" in the Tamazight alphabet. It is also the symbol of the Amazigh (Berber) identity, the indigenous people of North Africa.
... the sounds of the flowing sand of the Sahara...
... the intensity of the tribal chants of the Gnawi people...
... the hypnotic grooves of North African music...
AZA hails from Santa Cruz, California- USA. Their debut album, Marikan (2003) is a stirring journey through the music of the Berber culture, infused with a modern western influence. Vocalists Fattah Abboo and Mohamed Aoualou both hail from Morocco, and with the help of Jason Paquin (banjo, guitar), Joel Ford (clarinet, saxophones), Andy Zenczak (electric bass), and Alex Work (drum set), this six piece ensemble creates a unique and powerful sound filled with gripping melodies, complex harmonies, traditional African instruments (oud, lotar, sentir, bendir and more) and an infectious rhythm section that tips its hat to Rai music while perservering to create its own original sound.
The album features over 52 minutes of original music. The single, "Zrigh" is gaining popularity and has been heard on radio stations KUSP, KZSC, and KPIG in the central coast of California. The band's distinct sound has garnered praise from fans and musicians from all over the globe.
Recorded at Gadgetbox Studio in Santa Cruz, CA (www.gadgetbox.net) in spring of 2003, owner/engineer Andy Zenczak recalls being immediately moved from the initial days of tracking with this seasoned ensemble. "The music was so well arranged, it was as though the band had a professional producer properly orchestrate their material. Every instrument had its role, and even with the complexity of the melody lines and the exactness of the rhythms, everything managed to have its space in the mix." Through the studio sessions, the band found itself in the midst of a lineup change, and soon found themselves welcoming Andy aboard on fretted and fretless electric bass. Andy admits, "I always knew it would have to take a special project to get me out of the engineer's chair and back onto the road- but this band surpasses all my aspirations." The album was mastered by Bay Area recording guru Myles Boisen, who is a consistent contributing writer to Electronic Musician magazine and who has worked with many creative giants. including Fred Frith, Babatunde Olatunji, and David Lynch/Angelo Badlamenti.
The CD package art of 'Marikan' is equally as impressive as the music within. Through the wonders of internet exploration, AZA connected with Dan Heller, a Bay Area photographer whose pictures of Morocco and the Sahara desert spoke volumes of emotions and instantly brought Fattah and Mohamed memories of their homeland. Heller's contribution is not small- it is not easy to find good photography of this region of the world, especially of this caliber. The photos used were carefully scrutinized to create a visual landscape that would help transport the listener on the journey they would hear upon listening to the CD. Add to this a fantastic 6 panel eco-friendly Digipak (cardboard sleeves, no jewelbox) and 'Marikan' emerged- ready to be listened to and appreciated by all!
Currently selling out well-known Bay Area locations such as the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, the band is poised to travel and promote the release of 'Marikan.' Please visit the official web site at www.azamusic.net, and check the schedule for a performance near you.
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