El Gusto – Masters of Chaabi Reunite

The ‘blues of the Maghreb’ from the Arabic Capital of Culture 2007, Algier.

Past Dates

“Open up JazzFest!” − an adequate password for the opening act of this year’s festival, with over 40 participants from Algiers, Paris and Marseille, all sworn devotees of Chaabi music and dedicated to keeping it alive. The ‘Blues of the Maghreb’ was most popular in the 1940s and 50s and its activists have long been scattered to the four winds.

“Algeirean” documentary filmmaker Safinez Bousbia initiated a search for the original musicians and revived a group of gentlemen, most of them on the far side of youth but all still passionately burning for their music and driven by the desire to celebrate ‘the great reunion of Chaabi’. Most of the protagonists have not met for decades, one of the reasons being that many of the Jewish musicians, in the course of the growing Islamization following Algeria’s independence, looked for shelter in other countries, mostly in France.

With their invincible charm the reunited musicians will lure the audience to the marketplace of an oriental town somewhere between the past and the future. JazzFest Berlin will witness a fairy-tale come true, an intoxicating festival of sounds, archaic yet alive, moving but also cheerful – Arabian Nights continued!


Abdel Hadi Halo vocals, piano, mandola
Greg Lloyd piano
Abdelkader Chercham, Ahmed Bernaoui, Elyamine Haimun, Rachid Sergoua, Abdelmadjid Meskoud, Youssef Kashkar, Reda El Djilali, Rene Perez vocals, mandola
Mohamed Sergoua mondole guitar
Mohamed Brahimi mandoline
Abderrahmane Guellati, Hakim Ben El-Djouzi, Mahieddine Brahimi, Hamid Balamouche banjo
Mamad Hader Ben Chaouch, Ahcène Ould Ali, Salim Bradai, Hamid Guendouz, Ali Saidi violin
Mustapha Tahmi, Omar Boudjemia guitar
Luc Cherki vocals, guitar
Rachid Berkani, El Hadi Harbit, Youcef Hadjaj lute
Mohamed Akli Ouazaa cello
Chris Jennings bass
Hamaï Mabrouk qanun
Abderrahmane Hamidi flute
Mohamed Ferkioui accordion
Arezki Khelidjeni taar
Allouche Boualem castanets
Samir Debbaghi bongos
Abdelhakim Chegroune, Brahim Gaoua bendir
Selim Abdel-Rahmane, Abdsedik Gaoua darbouka
Rabbi Philippe Darmon, Imam Mohamed Touzan