Samir LanGus / Toebow / William Alexander

by The Avalon Lounge
Samir LanGus / Toebow / William Alexander
Sat, 11 Jun 2022
08:00PM - 11:00PM (EDT)
Event past
Samir LanGus is a Grammy nominated musician, born and raised in the city of Agadir, Morocco. Music has always been a part of the constant variety of street sounds of his city, from merchants to entertainers and calls to prayer. LanGus began learning Gnawa, a traditional, spiritual trance music, when he was 8 years old from the Gnawa masters of Morocco.

For the uninitiated, Gnawa music is the ritual trance music of Morocco!s black communities, originally descended from slaves and soldiers once brought to Morocco from Northern Mali and Mauritania. Often called "The Moroccan Blues”, Gnawa music has a raw, hypnotic power that fasci- nated outsiders as diverse as writer/composer Paul Bowles, jazz giant Randy Weston and rock god Jimi Hendrix. The music is utterly singular, played on an array of unique instruments — from the lute-like sintir that the band leader uses to call the tune, to the metal karqaba, castanets with which the kouyos (chorus) keep time and pound out clattering, hypnotic rhythms. The music believed to heal people possessed by jinn, or spirits in all night ceremonies called lila.

But "Gnawa is not just the music,” says Samir. "It’s the culture. You can!t play just the sintir, you also need the karqaba (karakeb is the plural of karkaba) to have the Gnawa spirit.” He describes the sintir, a stringed per- cussion instrument made of wood and camel skin with goat gut strings, as a "powerful instrument” with an amazing sound. "You feel it in your heart,” he says.

LanGus makes great use of this traditional repertoire, and adds his own, contemporary spin with additional jazz instrumentation. Taken as a whole, this exciting new artist fuses a centuries old North African tradition with the pulse and attitude of New York City now. He would like to collaborate with diverse musicians improvising new sound that respects the Gnawa tradition.

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Toebow was born in Brooklyn in 2013 as a guitar duo, evolving and expanding over the years into a formidable 5-piece band. Described by one reviewer as “a nice dose of shapeshifting, complex art pop” (Brooklyn Vegan), the music of Toebow shimmers with fluttering guitar lines, colorfully layered percussion and bass, tight vocal harmonies, lush synth lines, and the occasional drum machine to tie the gentle chaos neatly together. Wacky by nature but severe in execution, Toebow "artfully straddles the border between sincerity and goofiness” (ThrdCoast) yet their songs often confront the more stoic and somber realms of experience. Toebow's founding members met during a stint playing in Bobby (formerly of Partisan records), and the band has had members in common with Zula, Dirty Projectors, Peel Dream Magazine and ensemble et al.
Toebow is currently finishing a second full-length record with engineer and producer D. James Goodwin.

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William Alexander takes the reigns writing, performing, and producing his latest album, "The Uncut Tree" - a homage to the simplicity of being.  Bare vocal melodies, dilla inflected harmony, strewn across raw stream of conscious drums, recall the venerated autonomy of Shuggie Otis, and the unbridled fonk of the Whitefield Brothers.