Undoubtedly great music outlives the musicians who create it. But octogenarian greats such as John Lee Hooker or Cuba’s Buena Vista Social Club outlive the initial popularity of their musical genre and then decades later it is their late careers that make the music live on and catch fire to new generations, audiences and markets across the globe, as musical currents and tides, like the 1960’s UK blues boom or the 1990’s (and still continuing) world music phenomenon, work their unpredictable magic.
The Algerian Jewish master of PianOriental, Maurice El Médioni, will turn 88 this year. His innovative piano style, indomitable spirit and the turbulent panorama of his long career in Algerian chaabi and rai music has followed a similar trajectory. The music should have stopped or at least petered out several times for personal, political and historic reasons. But instead he has become a revered and iconic artist in world music, though in fact even 20 years ago he was largely a forgotten and unknown figure.