The guembri is a distinctive instrument, a three-stringed bass lute found most in gnawa, the North African music of former black slaves. In the hands of Hamid El Kasri, the guembri travels the range of emotions, from mournful and melancholic to uplifting and celebrative. And as his fingers pick out their complex melodies, his deep, sonorous voice widens the emotion palette even further. Music that appears on the surface to be simple in fact boasts many layers and hidden depths. While Hamid is a maâlem, a master-musician charged with protecting a particular style, he also regularly shows ambition above and beyond, having collaborated with Austrian jazz legend Joe Zawinul, raï superstar Khaled, and Justin Adams.
He is a man at the peak of his powers.