Thursday 9 April 2015, 8pm
Very excited to host a debut OTO show from Mauritanian griot Noura Mint Seymali – a nationally beloved star and one of Mauritania’s foremost musical emissaries.
“Historically, the role of griots in Mauritania would have included following warriors into battle and encouraging them while singing of their bravery, acting as entertainers, poets and jokers, as well as social historians. Coming from a musical lineage stretching back more than ten generations of griots, the music on Mauritanian singer Noura Mint Seymali's Tzenni sets forth simply to rock. And it does so in a full blown sandstorm of hypnotic grooves, melding traditional Mauritanian instruments, like the ardine and tidinite, within an electrified psychedelic rock band.” – The Quietus
Noura Mint Seymali is a nationally beloved star and one of Mauritania’s foremost musical emissaries. Born into a prominent line of Moorish griot, Noura began her career at age 13 as a supporting vocalist with her step-mother, the legendary Dimi Mint Abba. Trained in instrumental technique by her grandmother, Mounina, Noura mastered the ardine, a 9-string harp reserved only for women. Seymali Ould Ahmed Vall, Noura's father and namesake, sparked her compositional instincts, himself a seminal scholar figure in Mauritanian music; studying Arab classical music in Iraq, devising the first system for Moorish melodic notation, adapting the national anthem, and composing many works popularized by his wife, Dimi. Reared in this transitive culture where sounds from across the Sahara, the Magreb, and West Africa coalesce, Noura Mint Seymali currently drives the legacy forward as one of Mauritania's most adventurous young artists.
Fueled by the exploratory sound of her husband Jeiche Ould Chighaly’s emotive psych guitar lines, Noura and Jeiche formed their first "fusion" band in 2004. Jeiche, a master of the tidinit (aka. ngoni, xalam), brings the force of yet another important line of Moorish griot to bear, translating the tidinit's intricate phrasing to a modified electric guitar with heroic effect. His unique sound, mirroring vocal lines and then refracting their melodies into the either, was born out of years presiding over wedding ceremonies, directing the dance often as the sole melodic instrument. In addition to his work with Noura, Jeiche remains one of Nouakchott's most sought after guitarists for traditional ceremonies.
Composer and multi-instrumentalist Joshua Abrams has released eight albums, collaborated on over a hundred recordings, and composed soundtracks for Steve James’ Life Itself, the Emmy award winning The Interrupters, and Bill Siegel’s The Trials of Muhammad Ali. The New York Times describes his 2012 record, Represencing (Eremite) as "music that hints at the ceremonial without losing its modern bearings" and The Wire named his record Natural Information (Eremite) one of the top 50 recordings of 2010. The Village Voice picked his record Unknown Known as “one of the top 10 jazz albums of 2013”. He was a founding member of the “back porch minimalism” collective Town and Country and with Matana Roberts and Chad Taylor, the trio Sticks and Stones. Primarily known as a bassist, Joshua’s performances and recordings include work with Fred Anderson, Roscoe Mitchell, Hamid Drake, Peter Brotzmann, Bill Dixon, John Tchicai, Toumani Diabate, Joe McPhee, The Roots, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Nicole Mitchell, Jeff Parker, Mike Reed, Rob Mazurek, Gerald Cleaver, Henry Grimes, Bobby Broom, Dana Hall, Axel Dorner, Neil Michael Hagerty and the Howling Hex, Prefuse 73, Savath and Savalis, Sam Prekop, Jandek, Rhys Chatham, Damo Suzuki, Theaster Gates, Craig Taborn and Earle Brown. His latest record “Magnetoception” is due out in the fall of 2014 on Eremite records.
Natural Information Society is the name of Abrams’ group that formed in the wake of his records for Eremite. Live the music center around the sound of the guimbri (a Gnawan lute), integrating composition and improvisation to create hypnotic, highly rhythmic, psychedelic environments with an orientation towards uplift. This incarnation of Natural Information Society will also feature Lisa Alvarado on harmonium and Frank Rosaly on drums.