Music Review

Tigue and Innov Gnawa entice, entrance

Tigue and Innov Gnawa joined forces for the final two pieces Friday.
Robert Torres
Tigue and Innov Gnawa joined forces for the final two pieces Friday.

Tigue is billed as a “percussion band,” a moniker that seems far too simple for what this group does. Amy Garapic, Carson Moody, and Matt Evans are classically trained percussionists, but they play from memory like a rock band, they lock together like a jazz trio, and their collaborative creations are delightfully unpredictable.

On Friday evening at Berklee College of Music’s 160 Mass Ave. venue, the jumpsuited trio sat in a triangle of percussion setups facing one another. One piece combined the eerie coo of amplified bowed cymbals with undulating synthesizer chords, shot through with the glimmering tones of Moody running his fingers along glass rods. The next utilized delay effects to extend stick taps on drums into the sound of ball bearings clattering through a whimsical Rube Goldberg machine, before falling into a tight, infectious groove. “I hope you’re ready for some dancing,” Garapic told the crowd in reference to Innov Gnawa, the group that was to play the second half of the concert. I was ready to dance already.

This syncretic program concluded Celebrity Series of Boston’s Stave Sessions, a four-day festival of genre-irreverent music. Tigue’s half of the concert concluded with “Quilts,” a roughly 20-minute meditative odyssey. Evans controlled the deep, thrumming synth bass with one hand, rattling a shaker with the other, as the other two laid down shifty polyrhythms.


Clad in intricately embroidered robes and cowrie-shell-adorned headpieces, the New York-based Innov Gnawa took the stage for its Boston debut with a processional, chanting in the Darija Moroccan dialect of Arabic at full blast. Two musicians pounded on large drums, and three rattled the iron castanets called krakebs. Gnawa is ecstatic Islamic devotional dance music that developed in Moroccan communities of sub-Saharan African descent, and it wasn’t long before the band gestured to everyone to enjoy the music as it was made to be enjoyed: on their feet. Hassan Ben Jaafer, a gnawa master originally from Fes, Morocco, played punchy bass lines on the guembri (a three-stringed lute) and sang the throaty calls of call-and-response vocals. The krakebs chugged along, pulsing through the flexible meters. The irresistible “Toura Toura” got most of the audience moving.

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Tigue and Innov Gnawa joined forces for the final two pieces, filling the space with enticing rhythms. Synthesizer danced with guembri and cymbal with krakebs in a joyful fusion of instruments and cultures, whirling toward euphoria together.

Tigue and Innov Gnawa

Presented by Celebrity Series of Boston at 160 Mass Ave., Berklee College of Music, March 24

Zoë Madonna can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @knitandlisten. Madonna’s work is supported by the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.