Fawda Trio Brings Ancient Gnawa Traditions Into the Present

“It’s not just entertainment, it’s really healing music. A healing process.”

Bandcamp Daily

fawda-trio-600-1 Fawda Trio. Photo by Luca Sgamellotti.

Fawda Trio’s debut album is, in some ways, an unusual prospect. Building on the North African, ancient musical tradition of gnawa, it’s a music mostly listened to live—the krakab percussion’s thundering volume, paired with the simple, repeated basslines of the stringed guembri, have been honed over centuries to induce trance-like states in intimate, hours-long performances. Road to Essaouira translates those traditions onto record; channeling live gnawa’s meditative intensity, the album draws on outside influences—most audibly, jazz and hip hop—for a spiritually-minded focus guided by a wider musical approach.

Based in Bologna, the band are outsiders to gnawa culture. The northern Italian city has a fertile jazz and experimental scene, with each of them playing together in different projects over the years. Reda Zine, who—for Fawda Trio—plays an electric version of the guembri, is originally from Morocco. Hailing from Casablanca, it was only after…

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