Algerian-born, San Francisco-based global house DJ, producer and musician, Cheb I Sabbah has died, according to numerous reports. Sabbah, whose omnivorous, globe-spanning traditional beats and sounds culled from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and beyond earned Sabbah the nickname “the Godfather of global house," passed away on Wednesday, Nov. 6 after being diagnosed in 2011 with stomach cancer.
Sabbah was born Haim Serge El Baz to a working-class Jewish-Algerian family in 1947. He moved to Paris in the 1960s where he would spin American soul records. He relocated to New York and worked at Julian Beck's Living Theatre troupe before making his way to the Bay Area in 1984 where he would call home for the rest of his career. He took the name Cheb I Sabbah, which translates to "young of the morning."
In 1994, "Chebiji" (as he was nicknamed) released his debut album "The Majoon Traveler," which featured cut-up remixes of pieces by Don Cherry (whom he met in New York and was greatliy influenced by), Ornette Coleman, and Angus Maclise with the poetry of Ira Cohen. He would go on to ecord seven albums for the Six Degrees Records label and appeared on that label’s two “Asian Travels” global compilations series in addition to many collaborations, incluidng with Bassnectar on “Cheb I Sabbah (Alkher Illa Doffor)” for his 2007 “Underground Communication” album.