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Jil Jilala was formed in 1972 by members of a Sufi theater group and bases its songs on sacramental spoken poetry of the Jilala Brotherhood although they have also experimented with other religious and regional sounds, most notably Gnaoua. The band scored a decided hit with the release of "Chamar" (The Candle) a song that describes a midnight meditation on the profoundities of life, the universe, and everything.
Jil Jilala is a Moroccan musical group which rose to prominence in the 1970s among the movement created by Nass El Ghiwane and Lem Chaheb. Jil Jilala was founded in Marrakech in 1972 by performing arts students Mohamed Derhem, Moulay Tahar Asbahani, Sakina Safadi, Mahmoud Essaadi, Hamid Zoughi and Moulay Abdelaziz Tahiri (who had just left Nass el Ghiwane). In 1974, they released their first record Lyam Tnadi on the Atlassiphone label. The songs "Leklam Lemrassaa," "Baba Maktoubi," "Ha L'ar a Bouya," "Jilala" and "Chamaa" quickly achieved the status of popular 'classics.'
In 1976 they wrote "Laayoune Ayniya" about the Green March. The song was embraced as an unofficial 'national anthem' as Moroccans from all over the country marched en masse toward the disputed Western Sahara, then occupied by Spain.
In contrast to Nass El Ghiwane, who were primarily influenced by Gnawa music, Jil Jilala took their inspiration from other form of traditional Moroccan music like the Malhun, sung in an antiquated form of Moroccan Arabic, or the spiritual music of Jilala, an historical sufi brotherhood. In addition to their intellectual, socio-political and economic goals, these groups aimed for a rejuvenation of traditional Moroccan music.
Their musical activities in the 1980s were shaped by the gnaoui mu'allem Mustafa Bakbou and the formation of Tiq Maya. Some consider Bakbou (sometimes written "Baqbou") be among the most important and prolific Gnawa musicians in Africa. The group's line-up changes regularly. Both Sakina Safadi and Mustafa Bakbou left for short periods and then returned. Moulay Abdelaziz Tahiri left for 10 years before making his return. Shortly after Tahiri's return, Mohamed Derham, long the group's musical and professional core, dropped out; he now works in a communication agency. Mustafa Bakbou now has his own group, GnAwA; in keeping with the construction of music-making as a hereditary occupation, members of his family perform in the line-up.
Beginning in 2006, Jil Jilala began collaborative recording and performance ventures with Uve Muellrich and Marlon Klein of Germany's Dissidenten."Morocco". Grove Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 24 May 2011. (subscription required (help)).