Critters Buggin Out on the Road with Bachir & Mustapha Attar of the Master Musicians of Jajouka

SOURCE: Published: | 3,682 views
Bachir Attar is the leader of the ancient founding family of Trance from the village of Jajouka in Morocco. He and his youngest brother Mustapha are masters of the gimbre, rhaita, drums and lira and possess the healing Baraka given to their family by the Moslem Saint Sidi Ahmed Sheik. In the past, Bachir and Mustapha have collaborated with Talvin Singh, Paul Bowles, Ornette Coleman, Deborah Harry, Sonic Youth, Elliott Sharp, Bill Laswell, Brian Jones, The Rolling Stones, and last year with the London Philharmonic Orchestra for the score of the feature film The Cell. They now bring their mastery of collaboration and sonic explorations on tour with Critters Buggins raucous, neo-bop instrumental frenzy which mixes skronk-jazz and dance beats with elements of world music and sci-fi punk rock improv. This tour promises to be spiritually, rhythmically and psychologically intoxicating.

Tour Dates | Master Musicians of Jajouka Biography | Critters Buggin Biography | Quotes

Tour Dates
09.04.01 Tue | Zephyr | Salt Lake, UT
09.05.01 Wed | Boulder Theater | Boulder, CO
09.07.01 Fri | 400 Bar | Minneapolis, MN
09.08.01 Sat | Martyr's | Chicago, IL
09.10.01 Mon | Johnson State College | Johnson, VT
09.11.01 Tue | Iron Horse | Northampton, MA
09.12.01 Wed | Wetlands Preserve | New York, NY
09.13.01 Thu | Blues Alley | Washington DC
09.14.01 Fri | Asheville Music Zone | Asheville, NC
09.15.01 Sat | Georgia Theater | Athens, GA
09.17.01 Mon | House of Blues | New Orleans, LA
09.18.01 Tue | Mercury | Austin, TX
09.19.01 Wed | Majestic | Tulsa, OK
09.21.01 Fri | Brick by Brick | San Diego, CA
09.22.01 Sat | Temple Bar | Los Angeles, CA
09.23.01 Sun | Temple Bar | Los Angeles, CA
09.24.01 Mon | TBA | Santa Cruz, CA
09.25.01 Tue | Fillmore | San Francisco, CA
09.27.01 Thu | Crystal Ballroom | Portland, OR
09.28.01 Fri | Sit & Spin | Seattle, WA
09.29.01 Sat | Western Washington Univ. | Bellingham, WA


The Master Musicians of Jajouka are an all-male group from the foothills of the Rif Mountains about a hundred kilometers south of Tangier, Morocco. Described by William S. Burroughs as “a 4000 year old rock 'n' roll band," they are born into a unique family of musicians who have received royal patronage for centuries. Exempt from all work except making music, the Master Musicians have done nothing else since birth. They are taught from a very early age by their Master Musician family to play an ancient music that is unlike any other. Their music possesses the power to heal, and they can communicate with the spirits of the hills and the flocks and most importantly the spirits of music.

Two of the great influences on the Beat Generation, Brion Gysin, the painter and inventor, and Paul Bowles, the writer and composer, first heard the wild music of Jajouka at a festival in the summer of 1950. Gysin was entranced and determined to hear the music regularly, for the rest of his life. These were the days of the Inter-Zone, when Tangier was an international city, where anything could and did happen. In this adventurous climate, Gysin opened the now-legendary restaurant, The 1001 Nights, in the kasbah of Tangier, hiring the Jajouka musicians as the house band. However, it wasn't until after 1968 when Gysin brought his close friend Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones to Jajouka, that the sacred music was brought widely to the attention of the Western world. The Jajoukans musically recreated festival music from their most important religious holiday and Jones eagerly recorded seven hours of the captivating, complicated sounds. It was this festival that led Gysin to believe that there were connections between the ancient rites of Pan, the ancient Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia, and the local tradition in Jajouka of a young boy dressing as Bou Jeloud, the Goat God, Father of Skins, and dancing madly, whipping the villagers into a frenzy, and ensuring the health of the village for the coming year.

Jones drowned a month after returning from Morocco and the album he recorded, Brian Jones Presents The Pipes of Pan at Jajouka, was released two years later, in 1971. Jones manipulated some of the recordings, using various psychedelic sound treatments, but left most of the music alone with its original haunting, penetrating authenticity. The release of “Brian Jones presents The Pipes of Pan at Jajouka" was very influential and led to scores of people visiting the village in the following years, including Ornette Coleman who recorded a track for his album “Dancing In Your Head" in the village.

The music of Jajouka has always been highly respected and sought after by those living in the region. The Master Musicians were the Royal Court musicians for seven kings of Morocco prior to Morocco's occupation by France and Spain. Villagers come to Jajouka on pilgrimage, to visit the shrine of the holy man Sidi Ahmed Sheikh, who brought Islam to the valley centuries ago. Sidi Ahmed Sheikh also had the power to heal mental illnesses and he blessed the music of Jajouka with this same healing power and to this day, the Master Musicians along with the Holy Man in the village heal the mental illnesses of the people sent from surrounding villages.

The Attar family, the keepers of the sacred music, are also the founding family of the village. They possess Baraka, or the blessing of Allah, which gives them the power to heal, and the endurance required to play some of the most intense and complex music around. This family, though under tremendous financial strain, still carries on the traditional rites to this day.

The music of Jajouka uses a number of traditional instruments, including the rhaita (the Arabic version of the oboe), the lira (a bamboo flute), and the gimbri (a three stringed lute), along with double-headed Moroccan drums. The music is composed of several fairly simple parts, which are then intricately woven together in a way foreign to most Western ears, so that the resolution of individual phrases and sections can be difficult for outsiders to discern. The music can be extended indefinitely, and many performances last for days at a time, with some musicians taking breaks and others stepping in to take their place.

Bachir Attar is the son of the late Hadj Abdesalam Attar, considered by many to be the greatest Moroccan musician during his time and who was the sovereign leader of the Attar clan and the Master Musicians of Jajouka. Bachir has inherited that role and is now responsible for the preservation of an endangered musical tradition, a tradition threatened by the Western world, where time and money take precedent over ritual and meaning. Bachir Attar has known since birth that he is the one with the Baraka, the one to carry on the tradition, and so he devotes his life to securing performances for the musicians and documenting the rich and fascinating history of his family.


  • Official Site of the Master Musicians of Jajouka
  • Interview with Bachir Attar
  • Review of 06.02 performance of Bachir Attar and DJ Cheb I Sabbah
  • Interview with Bachir Attar

    CRITTERS BUGGIN - Biography

    Welcome to Ballard, Washington. The sky is gray. Barnacle encrusted sailors repair boats aching to return to sea. The Ballard bridge raises its mechanical torso, allowing the high masted ship to pass. Passive-aggressive Seattle drivers speed up and down 15th Avenue.

    Meanwhile, in the basement of a purple house at the corner of 15th and 72nd, three mutant musicians from outer space are working it out. Talk is minimal. They sweat and groan as the musical influences melt together. They are unaware that their nervous systems are being tampered with by an alien civilization whose ascended master came from Saturn.

    Improvisational sci-fi punk rock jazz. The kick stand hog shags Bill Gates and mounts blasta under redeye sheets of Burundi. Get out the shears cause the Critters are coming. Along the way they have toured the west coast, flown to Poland and Japan, and scrambled the DNA of a percussionist or two. In May of 2001, Critters Buggin toured the west coast after freaking out the jamily at jazz-fest opening for Medeski, Martin & Wood. Look out for Orbitron and The Baron, as they plan to destroy your musical comfort zone, at a theater in your town this September!

    The Musicians:
    Skerik - Saxophone and Keyboards: Besides Critters Buggin, Skerik is also an ongoing member of the bands Garage a Trois (w/ Stanton Moore & Charlie Hunter), Ponga (w/ Wayne Horvitz, Bobby Previte & Dave Palmer), Mike Clark's Prescription Renewal (w/ original Headhunters drummer Mike Clark, Charlie Hunter, Robert Walter & DJ Logic), and has played previously in the bands SadHappy and Tuatara.

    Matt Chamberlain - Drums: Space boy; The helmet. Matt has become one of the most in demand drummers in the US. He has played with Tori Amos, Peter Gabriel, Macy Gray, Chris Isaak, Aaron Neville, Sam Phillips, Pigeonhed, Willy Porter, David Torn, and Weapon of Choice, among others.

    Brad Houser - Bass: Brad Plays with HairyApesBMX, Kultur Shock and freelances around Austin, TX.

    Mike Dillon - Percussion and Vibraphone: Current projects besides the Critters include the Malachy Papers, Brave Combo, Garage a Trois and Hairy Apes B.M.X. He toured with Karl Denson's Tiny Universe this July.


  • Critters Buggin on JamBase
  • Critters Buggin's Official Website
  • Show Review of Critters Buggin with Bachir Attar
  • Critters Buggin Show Review
  • Skerik on Fog City Records


    “The music is human music, music that preserves life." -Ornette Coleman

    “The music is an evocation of sustained ecstasy. It is chaotic, cacophonous, sometimes at war with itself. And it is utterly intoxicating." -John Leland/ Newsweek

    “The gods will surely dig these grooves, as well as the promise implicit in Bachir Attar's strong loving wail." -David Fricke/ Rolling Stone Magazine

    “One of the most musically inspiring groups still left on the planet." -Mick Jagger

    “Critters Buggin are an eclectic /improvisational /experimental /tribal/ electronic/ theatrical/ funk machine." - Joe Smith,

    “...freeform jazz often reminiscent of the stylings of Pharaoh Sanders or Sun Ra. The variety of sonic textures were so varied that it's safe to say that Critters Buggin extends itself beyond the repertoire of 99% of the other bands playing live today." - Lee Bouyea,

  • Post a comment

    comments powered by Disqus

    Shop For Jazz Music


    Sponsor: Nonesuch Records | BUY NOW

    Enter it twice.
    To the weekly jazz events calendar

    Enter the numbers in the graphic
    Enter the code in this picture

    Reset password.

    Log in

    One moment, you will be redirected shortly.
    Events On Demand!

    Email Local Jazz Events

    News Search

    or search site with Google