Fattah Abbou and Mohamed Aoualou have been living in California for 20 years but grew up in Morocco. During their youth they learned to play traditional Moroccan music and listened to other genres of music performed throughout their country.
“It gave us a rich musical experience,” says Abbou, who founded the band AZA with Aoualou.
AZA’s two founders and Albuquerque musician Brahim Fribgane perform at GIG Performance Space on February 15. Their unique sounds and instruments are on display during a concert that is not only entertaining but also educational.
“We’ll talk about the cultural aspects of the music and our instruments,” Abbou explains. “Some of the instruments we’re bringing to Santa Fe aren’t seen that often in the U.S.”
Abbou is a vocalist who plays the oud, sintir (three-string bass), ribab (one-string fiddle indigenous to the Berbers of Morocco), banjo and an array of percussion instruments. He has studied and performed many styles of North African music for more than 30 years. He recorded several CDs in Morocco and has collaborated on recordings with national and international artists.
Aoualou mainly plays guitar for AZA but sometimes oud and percussion. A prolific songwriter, he grew up listening to traditional and modern Moroccan, Middle Eastern and Western music.
Some of AZA’s songs are traditional tunes from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, while others have elements of funk, blues, jazz and reggae in them. “Actually, there are many different rhythms, melodies and tones in Moroccan music,” Abbou adds.
Fribgane is an oud player who was also born and raised in Morocco. He grew up listening to North African, Gnawa, Berber, Arabic and Andalusian music. When he was in his early teens, he moved to the U.S.
“Mohamed and I play with Brahim on a regular basis,” says Abbou. “It’s just that we can’t do it all the time since Mohamed and I live in California and Brahim lives in New Mexico. “But we have an entire repertoire that the three of us play together.”