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Foundou de Bechar .

Foundou from Bechar

ALLA
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LE FOUNDOU

Voici enfin le premier disque d'Alla, de son vrai nom Abdellaziz Abdellah. Avant cela, un producteur avait russi le faire entrer en studio pour y raliser une cassette qu'Alla n'accepte aujourd'hui qu' moiti : l'homme a toujours eu une relation absolue, mystique, avec la musique, il s'tait interdit d'en faire commerce, de faire carrire. Alla est n le 15 juin 1946 Bchar Djedid (nouveau), quartier priphrique de Bchar, mtropole saharienne 900 kilomtres de la Mditerrane, appele aussi Bidendou. Dernier n d'une famille de 12 enfants, d'un pre venu de Taghit (oasis situe 95 kilomtres de Bchar), et d'une mre originaire de Tafilalet, au sud du Maroc. Alla quitte quinze ans les bancs de l'cole pour commencer gagner sa vie. Apprenti lectricien d'abord puis boulanger, barman, il travaillera ensuite dans diffrentes entreprises publiques, avant d'ouvrir un magasin d'ameublement en 1986. L, les rencontres amicales seront plus florissantes que le commerce. 16 ans, Alla fabrique son propre luth de fortune : l'universel instrument cordes des gamins, base de bidon, de bout de bois en guise de manche et de cbles de frein de vlo pour les cordes. Les copains du quartier seront son premier auditoire. En 1972 Alla achte son premier luth, il joue alors, comme tous ses pairs, des mlodies en vogue en gnral du melhoun marocain. Mais vite, il volera de ses propres ailes, se forgeant un style, explorant des horizons nouveaux pour arriver dans sa pratique de linstrument une sorte de synthse entre le jeu oriental et le jeu africain. La dmarche d'Alla sera faite d'improvisation au fil des soires. Il ne se souviendra jamais de ce qu'il a jou la veille ; son inspiration : tout ce qui me fait mal ressort dit-il. Un rcital d'Alla ressemble un rituel : on vient prendre le musicien et son luth, dans la maison familiale, prs du ksar (vieille ville aux maisons d'argile et de terre cuite). Un soir comme tant d'autres, il est 20 heures lorsque la voiture d'un ami chauffeur de taxi emporte Alla vers Kenadza. Le soleil s'teint sur la route droite, l'entre de la bourgade on ne voit que les contours magiques du lavoir de la mine dsaffecte et une locomotive miraculeusement prserve de l'usure du temps. La soire se passe chez un ami, un mdecin nordiste, install au sud, et adopt par la population. Dans le grand salon tout le monde s'installe sur des matelas poss sur le sol l'assistance est exclusivement masculine comme le veut la tradition religieuse dans le Sud saharien. Alla se met alors accorder son luth, des heures durant, le plus trange est qu'il joue de son instrument tout en le rglant, au point que d'emble, le passage au rcital est imprvisible et imperceptible pour un auditeur profane. Accorder le luth n'est pas une simple opration technique pour lui. En mme temps qu'il triture les cordes de son instrument, l'oreille colle aux sonorits, il cherche la voie, lissue par o il s'chappera. Il peut jouer seul ou accompagn, il est capable de crer un orchestre dans l'assistance : jerricane, boites d'allumettes, choeur, balancement des corps, tout lui est bon, le luth d'Alla peut prendre au gr de

l'inspiration les couleurs de la cithare, celles de la Cora ou du Guembri (instrument deux cordes graves venu d'Afrique noire et popularis dans les annes soixante-dix par le groupe marocain Nass El Ghiwane). Dcoulant de cette libert d'improvisation, on retrouve dans sa musique une modernit proche de l'esprit jazz dans lequel une oreille occidentale classerait volontiers ce musicien. Bchar, jusquen 1968, la France est reste prsente par le biais de sa base militaire et avec elle la vie culturelle importe : orchestres venus de mtropole, bals populaires, bistrots Une ambiance qui n'a pas manqu d'influencer les musiciens de la rgion. C'est ainsi que l'on peut voir aujourd'hui la clbre Hasna, vieille dame noire qui trne dans les mariages avec sa guitare lectrique au milieu d'orchestres fminins. Bchar o il y a aujourd'hui des chanteuses de ra, o dans les annes soixante, Bouteldja Belcacem, le Khaled de l'poque venait d'Oran donner des soires au Calypso Dans sa ville, la musique d'Alla a fait cole et porte son surnom Foundou. Le pre d'Alla, dj tait appel Embarek Foundou parce qu'il travaillait au fond 2 de la mine de Kenadza. Le luthiste hrita donc du surnom paternel avant de le lguer sa propre musique. La mine de Kenadza dcouverte en 1917, transforma cette oasis saharienne dirige par la plus grande confrrie de l'Ouest algrien, auprs de qui sjourna Isabelle Eberhardt, en ple industriel cosmopolite. Le proltariat vint de tous les horizons, des hauts plateaux, de Kabylie, du Maroc ; y travaillrent des rpublicains espagnols, des Corses, des Italiens et mme des prisonniers allemands de la Seconde Guerre mondiale Kenadza, on fte chaque anne le saint patron de la zaoua, Sidi M'hamed Ben Bouziane, au son de la Ferda, musique typique, ou du Diwan, d'origine noire africaine dans lequel la musique d'Alla trouve aussi son imprgnation. Musique de transe l'origine profane, mais devenue religieuse, le Diwan sa posie mystique et ses versets coraniques chants comme une litanie trouve ses adeptes jusque dans les grandes villes du Nord. Bchar en mme temps que Kenadza, si proche, a toujours connu une vie musicale diffuse, underground, il n'y a pas une famille o l'on ne touche pas la musique, pour le plaisir, o l'on ne gratte pas un instrument. La proximit du Maroc, les alliances et migrations familiales font qu'il n'y a jamais eu de frontires culturelles. Le chaabi de Casablanca, la tradition du melhoun marocain (posie lyrique amoureuse en semi-dialectal), puis celle du Guiwane dans les annes soixante-dix, ont eu leur influence sur les gens de Bchar. Alla se souvient des Bouchaib El Bidaoui, Amar Zahi, Abdelhadi Belkhayat et surtout du luthiste Brahim El Allami qui ont compos son environnement musical. Le melhoun marocain a d'ailleurs donn le chanteur le plus clbre de Bchar, Cheikh Belkbir, qui a vcu au royaume chrifien. Il n'est pas exagr de dire qu'Alla a fait cole, une multitude de jeunes, plus ou moins connus, s'inspirent de son style ou plus exactement de l'esprit de son jeu. L'improvisation au luth, partir de quelques thmes emprunts au musicien, l'accompagnement rythmique avec des ustensiles de fortune, et par celui qui le

dsire, les longs silences impromptus, l'grnement lger arien des sons, la derbouka grave et vibrante, frappe la manire d'un tabla, le tout dans lintemporalit, la plnitude des instants, des grands espaces: aujourd'hui Bchar le Foundou existe. Il faut dire que le nombre de cassettes enregistres par les uns et les autres, au fil des soires donnes par Alla est incalculable, un de ses amis en a dnombr prs de trois cents, entre 1980 et 1984. Le luth d'Alla a ainsi dj circul dans son pays et hors des frontires, Bernardo Bertolucci qui tournait Un th au Sahara en emporta dans ses bagages, et le luthier de Mounir Bachir dclara un groupe de journalistes algriens Mais vous avez en Algrie un luthiste exceptionnel, Alla, dont le jeu chappe aux schmas de la musique arabe, celui du nomade, sans espace prcis Nidam Abdi

At last here is the first recording by Alla, Abdellaziz Abdellah, by his real name. Before this, a producer had managed to bring him into a studio to record a cassette that Alla only half accepts today: the man always had a total, mystical relationship with music. He had forbidden to himself to make a trade out of it, to make a career. Alla was born on the 15th of June 1946 in Bechar "Djedid"(new) an outlying district of Bechar, a saharian metropolis that lies 900kms from the Mediterranian and is also called "Bidendou". The last ot a 12 children family, born of a father that came from Taghit ( an oasis located 95kms from Bechar) and a mother native from Tafilalet, in southern Marocco, Alla quits school at 15 to start earning his life. Electrical apprentice first, then baker, he subsequently works in several public firms before he opens a furniture shop in 1986. There, friendly meetings will be more flourishing than trade. At 16, Alla makes his own lute: the universal string instrument for kids made of can, wooden stick as a neck, bike's brakes cables as strings. His buddies in the district will be his first audience. ln 1972 Alla buys his first lute, he then plays, as all his peers, fashionable melodies, usually of the moroccan "melhoun". But he soon will take his flight forging a personal style, exploring new horizons to attain, in his practice of the instrument, some kind of synthesis between the oriental and the african way of playing. Alla's approach will be made of improvisation in the course of the evenings. He will never remember what he played the night before; his inspiration:" everything that hurts me comes out" he says. A recital by Alla is very much like a ritual: one fetches the musician and his lute in the family house near the Ksar( old town with clay and terra cotta houses). One evening like many others, it's 8 p.m when the car of a taxi driver friend takes Alla towards Kenadsa. The sun is vanishing on the straight road, at the entranoe to the village, one only sees the magical outline of out of bussiness mine' s washhouse and a locomotive that has been miraculously preserved fom the injures of time. The evening takes place at a friend's a"northern" doctor who settled in the south and has been adopted by the population. In the big lounge everybody takes place on matresses laid on the ground. The audience is exclusively male, as the religious tradition in southern Sahara wants. Alla then starts tuning his lute, for hours. The strangest thing is that he plays his instrument while tuning it so that, right from the start, the transition towards the recital is unforeseeable and imperceivable to the unknowledgeable listener. Tuning the lute is not only a technical operation for him. While he fingers the strings, his hear closely listening to the sounds, he is actually loking for the way through which he shall escape. He can play alone or accompanied: jerricans, match boxes, choir, swinging bodies, every thing is good for him. Alla's lute can take, depending on his inspiration, the colours of the zither, of the kora or of the guembri (a two low strings instrument fom black Africa that has become popular in the seventies throught the moroccan group Nass El Ghiwane). Proceeding from this improvisational freedom, one finds in his music a modernity that is close to the spirit of jazz in which a western ear would readily classify the musician. France remained present in Bechar up to 1988 through its military base, and with it the imported cultural life: metropolitan orchestras, street bals, bars An atmosphere that obviously influenced local musicians. Thus one can

see today the famous Hasna, an old black lady sitting instate at marriages with her electric guitar in the middle of a women' s orchestra. Bechar where there are nowadays ra female singers, where back in the sixties Bouteldja Belcacem the Khaled of the time came from Oran to perform at the" Calypso" In his town, Alla's music set a fashion and bears his nickname "Foundou". Alla's father was already called Embarek "Foundou" because he worked down the second bottom of the Kenadza mine. The lute player then inherited his father's nickname before he bequeathed it to his own music. The Kenadza mine found in 1917 turned this saharian oasis, ruled by the biggest brotherhood in the western part of Algeria, and where Isabelle Eberhardt stayed a while, into a cosmopolitan industrial center. Workers came from all over, from the high plateaux, from Kabylia, from Morocco. Spanish republicans, Corsicans, Italians and even german prisoners from the second world war worked there Each year, in Kenadza, the patron saint of the zaouia, Sidi M'hamed Ben Bouziane is celebrated to the sound of the "Ferda" a typical music, or of the "diwan", originally from black Africa and in which Alla's music also takes its source. An originally secular trance music that became religious, the "diwan", with its mystical poetry and coranic verses sung like a litany finds its followers as far as the big northern cities. Becchar, along with the close Kenadza always had a diffused, underground musical life. There is not a family that has nothing to do with music, just for the love of it, where one doesn't pluck an instrument. The nearness of Morocco, the family alliances and migrations prevented the establishment of any cultural border. The chaabi from Casablanca, the morocan "melhoun" tradition (a lyrical love poetry in semi-spoken arabic), then the "Guiwane" tradition in the seventies all had their influence on the people of Bechar. Alla remembers Bouchaib El Bidaoui, Amar Zahi, Abdelhadi Belhayat and above all the lute player Brahim El Allami who composed his musical environment. The moroccan "melhoun" even gave Bechar's most famous singer, Cheikh Belkir, who lived in the cherifian kingdom. It is not exagerated to say that Alla set a trend: a crowd youngsters more or less well known , take their inspiration from his style or more exactly the spirit of his playing. Lute improvising based on some themes borrowed from the musician, rythm accompanying with make shift tool and by who ever feels like it, long impromptu silences, light airy shedding of sounds, low and vibrating derbouka, struck like a tabla, all of this in timeless plenitude of the moments and of the great spaces: today, in Bechar, the Foundou is alive. One has to say that the amount of cassettes recorded by such and such, evening after evening that Alla gave, is innumerable. One of his friends counted about three hundred of them between 80 and 84. Alla's lute thus already went through his country and abroad. Bernardo Bertolucci, as he was shooting "Tea in Sahara" took some with him, and the Munir Bachir's instrument maker said to a group of algerian journalists: "But you do have in Algeria an exceptional lute player, Alla, whose playing baffles all the patterns of arab music", that of the nomad, without any precise space Nidam Abdi