TUESDAY

The folk music of Morocco’s Gnawa people is like that of African-Americans: spiritual, entrancing, and steeped in the pain of slavery. The Gnawa claim descent from Sidi Bilal, the prophet Mohammed’s first muezzin (one who calls the faithful to prayer), but its people were taken by Arabs as slaves or conscripts from the Gulf of Guinea to Magreb in northwest Africa around the 16th century. Descendents of the original Gnawa now live throughout Morocco, but this religious brotherhood’s greatest concentration is in Marrakech. Nass Marrakech, a Gnawa group formed in its city namesake in 1991 by vocalist Abdeljalil Kodssi, and string-instrumentalists Moulay M’Hamed Ennaji and Abdelkebir Bensaloum, incorporates the religious music of its ancestors with discrete world sounds, as evidenced on Sabil’a ‘Salaam. The sounds of Japan (Hiroshi Kobayashi guests on shakuhachi, a bamboo flute), the United States (Kodssi toured with jazz cornetist Don Cherry), Cuba, and India (Jordi Rallo plays cajon, a box drum popular in rumba and flamenco, and tabla) drift through the CD’s mix, but the results are decidedly Gnawaian. Delicate drums and percussion, like the djembe, sabar, and karkabas (metal castanets), and hypnotically strummed stringed instruments, like the sintir (a three-string bass lute), mandolin, and ud (a short-necked lute), along with gorgeous call-and-response vocals, give the music its deep beatific beauty. Nass should sound as good as when it plays Marrakech’s famous Djemma El Fna square when the group performs at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3, at Zanzibar on the Waterfront, 700 Water St. SW. $10. (202) 554-9100. (Christopher Porter)