El Gusto is the powerful story of an orchestra with Jewish and Muslim musicians who were driven from each other during the Algerian war of independence in 1962. The female filmmaker Safinez Bousbia ran across their story while on a trip to Algeria in 2003 and sought out the various musicians who had not seen each other in over 40 years. The musicians, now between the ages of 72 and 98, all share something that cannot be destroyed by the ravages of time or the trauma of war: a love of Algerian Chaabi, a musical genre that combines Spanish Andalusian music with traditional Jewish and Muslim sounds. The young director interviewed all the musicians and brought them together for an extraordinary reunion concert in Marseille, with no less than 42 musicians on stage. The entire story has been made into a film of the same name.
Since the reunion concert in Marseille, the El Gusto band has travelled the world over and fascinated audiences as well as the media. The “El Gusto” CD was produced by Damon Albarn, known for his work with British pop bands such as Blur and Gorillaz. The project quickly became characterized as a kind of Buena Vista Social Club album with first-class Algerian musicians instead of Cuban. The film about the project was released in January 2012 in Paris. On October 30th, all the surviving members of the orchestra will perform live at Rockefeller!