It’s not easy for Fattah Abbou to explain the musical and cultural influences that are in his band Aza’s music. On one hand, it’s a mixture of traditional Moroccan music and Western music. But, as he points out, “Moroccan music” is an extremely broad category.
“Morocco is one of the richest countries in North Africa in terms of different styles of music, for one main reason: it still has the biggest population of the natives. It’s so diverse,” Abbou says. “It’s music, but it’s also a cultural experience. We are almost like Moroccan ambassadors.”
The band was formed in 2002 by Abbou and Mohamed Aoualou, who used to play together in a band back in Morocco in the ’90s. Even there, they mixed the influences of North African music, many of which come from tribes that have evolved their cultures in a fairly isolated environment due to the Saharan desert and the high elevation. They also have influences from Europe, and the U.S.—jazz, blues, country and funk.
“Our music gets its inspiration from different traditional styles of music that exist in North Africa, and there are so many,” Abbou says. “The music is kind of a hybrid.”
They sing most of the songs in their native tongue, and play a lot of traditional instruments like the ribab and the sintir. Abbou plays a banjo, which comes from North Africa originally, but his finger-picking style is completely different than that of bluegrass musicians.
“We’re lucky. We’re in an area that really embraces diversity and is curious, and where people really love world music in general,” Abbou says.
INFO: 8 p.m. Friday, March 16. Michael’s on Main, 2591 Main St., Soquel. $15. 479-9777.