By Al Mustafa Swainfly (MAP)
Rabat – The fruit of the initiative of two Moroccan artists living in the United States, the AZA group has been featuring access to Moroccan music immigration for nearly two decades.
AZA was born in 2003 in the country of Uncle Sam, thanks to both Fattah Abba and Mohamed Awlo. Aoualou, a native of Ouarzazate’s neighborhood, is influenced by Western music, while being associated with local music specific to his origin. Before moving to the United States in 1998, he played with famous artists such as Overseaset and Mohamed Mallal.
Fatah, meanwhile, grew up in Imintono (Sichuan Province). In an interview with MAP-Amazigh, he says he learned to play Amasi music from the age of seven, which was influenced by the traditions of Ahwak and Taski and the talent of Rua. In 2000, he immigrated to the United States, where he founded Mohamed Aula, an AZA group based in Santa Cruz, California.
Choosing a group name is not trivial. In fact, the word AZA stands for the letter “Z” (ⵣ) with a strong coding charge, as it refers to the specific Amasi identity for Africa and the renewal and stabilization of culture.
Today, the AZA is formed around six members. In addition to Fattah Apo and Mohamed Avalou, they are American musicians Elizabeth Torres, Genoa Brown, Peter Novembre and Kevin Dinoto. While embellishing them with other musical traditions from around the world, its select organization helped the band to deliver works inspired by the Amasi talents of Sauce and Atlas.
“We decided to create an AZA band and add artists from different musical backgrounds (jazz, funk, Latin…). AZA, which aims to modernize Amasi music, keeps this music intact in the spirit of distinguishing melody and rhythm,” the artist explains.
He adds that it is “providing Amasi music through sounds and compositions that will” attract a wider audience around the world.
This talented art mix takes shape at the instrumental level, where Fatah Abba’s best sports electric and sound bass, drums, kajan, saxophone and flute with instrumental features of Moroccan Amasi music (ribab, banjo, lottery and quembri).
Implemented by mesmerizing melodies, AZA’s songs sometimes deal with themes with emotion, sometimes with identity, while at the same time overcoming questions about spiritual, social or personal nature such as immigration. The songs are listed on four albums produced by the band so far, namely “Marigan”, “Tamgra Wushen”, “Tayuka” and “Tafsute N-Uses”.
Fattah Abu considers the reception assigned to AZA’s work in the United States to be positive. He points out the band’s various appearances at American festivals in Austin, including the Southwest Festival (SXSW), the Chicago World Music Festival, the Madison World Music Festival, and Upper Sierra Music. California Festival, Sierra Nevada Music Festival, and Gabriello Music Festival.
“Our music delivers unique sounds that intrigue the public and want to know more about Morocco,” he argues, ensuring that tickets for almost all shows performed by AZA run very quickly.
In addition, AZA recorded twenty songs for the “Facebook” company’s account within the framework of the “Facebook Sound Collection” program, where the group represents the sounds of North Africa.
In Morocco, the AZA left its mark on the festival of Agadir, Tiffany de Tufrout, Tourite de Efren, and Imminton Out immigrants.
Thus, from abroad, the AZA Group sets a clear example for this new generation of artists who breathe new life into Amasi music and are enthusiastically committed to its spread internationally. In a sense, AZA wants to withstand a certain cultural protection. “Whenever we get involved in a concert, we play music, yes, but we also talk about North African culture and teach the public about that culture.”