13th TANJAzz Festival in Tangier, Morocco by Rupert Parker

Jazz festivals, these days, are diverse events with blues, rock and world music getting a look in – TANJAzz was no exception, although the local jazzers were out in force.

TANJAzz

TANJAzz

Antonio Flinta Quartet

Antonio Flinta Quartet

Interzone

Interzone

Karim Kadiri M'Oud Swing Quartet

Karim Kadiri M'Oud Swing Quartet

M'Oud Swing Quartet

M'Oud Swing Quartet

Noam Vazana Solo

Noam Vazana Solo

Oo-Bop-Sh'Bam

Oo-Bop-Sh'Bam

Tangier is a city notorious for expat writers like William Burroughs and Paul Bowles, although the Rolling Stones and Beatles were here in the 1960’s. The 13th Tanjazz festival couldn’t boast anyone as famous and it was a gentle affair held over 4 days. It was split between a large outdoor stage near the port and the Palais des Institutions Italiennes, an ornate Moorish palace. There’s also an open air stage, but the best jazz is heard in the more intimate rooms, sumptuously furnished in the Moroccan style.

Morocco was represented in force with Isslman, Tawfik Ouldammar and Soussi Trio, MoAdib Garti Quintet, Majid Bekkas “afro gnaoua jazz band” and M’Oud Swing Quartet. Karim Kadiri, on Oud, soloed over a hypnotic groove provided by Barry Sames on keyboards although I must say it was slightly soporific, or maybe it was just that time of night.

There was also too much fusion going on elsewhere as well as an unhealthy dose of jump jive. The crowd pleaser was Ben Presage, a bluesman from  Florida, very much in the Seasick Steve mode, although I must say I think he’s rather more talented.  My pick was Interzone, a young Austrian trio led by trumpeter Mario Rom, who managed a tight and inventive set.  A late night delight was Noam Vazaha who sung sultry ballads and backed herself on piano and trombone.

Since the festival takes place in the evening, there was ample opportunity to explore Tangier during the day.  It’s well worth visiting the Medina, although you have to take care not to get lost in its labyrinthine alleys.  There’s also a huge sandy beach where you can take a dip in the sea and food in local restaurants is good and cheap. 

For details of next year’s festival visit the TANJAzz website. www.tanjazz.org/eng/index.htm

Visit Morocco has details about the country. www.visitmorocco.com/index.php/eng/

Royal Air Maroc flies direct to Tangier from London’s Heathrow. www.royalairmaroc.com/Marchand/Eng/Home.jsp

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