Formed in 1968, Mauritania's National Orchestre was the official band of the post-colonial desert country. Led by the young Hadrami Ould Meidah and trained in Guineau Conakry under the guidance of the Bembeya Jazz, the Orchestre National was both musical group and idealogical symbol - sharing many of the aspirations of the young country. To the Mauritanian classical music, with its rigid and complex modal system, the group unabashedly added electric guitars and brass sections. Traditional epics were adapted with contemporary sounds. Multi-lingual compositions honored the diverse ethnic groups throughout the country.
The life of the National Orchestra would parallel the events shaping the nation, lasting from 1968 to 1975 - shortly before the military coup which would spell not only the end of the Orchestra, but the end of a democracy. Recordings are hard to come by. Aside from the few copies of the 7" that still exist, no other commercial releases were ever made. The remaining legacy of the Orchestra consisting of live performances and radio broadcasts, was nearly destroyed during the coup d'etat of 1978. Under orders to burn any and all recordings related to the Daddah regime, the radio archive was looted by loyal military forces. During the chaos, one heroic radio engineer snuck into the archives and salvaged the reels of the music contained here which were sequestered in his home for the past decades. Working with Hadrami Ould Meidah, radio archivists, and former members of the band, these selections highlight some of the remaining recordings of the prolific L'Orchestre National de Mauritania.
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