music | Israel, Iraq, Isis & The Music of Dudu Tassa

WARNING: The following article contains references to Israel, Iraq, fingering, tunneling, Egypt and Isis. An open mind is strongly advised.

On the day I was called upon to write about this week’s Dudu Tassa concert, I confess that I knew very little about a man who turns out to be quite the rockstar in his native Israel (that’s one), not to mention heir to a great dynasty of Arabic music. All I could really say was that I had jotted the date of his Montreal concert in my calendar out of sheer curiosity, after having perused the offerings for this year’s Montreal Jewish Music Festival. Truth be told, I was  curious about the fact that earlier that day, I had succumbed to one of those Facebook quizzes and was quite pleased that it revealed that I should be a writer. I take these premonitions quite seriously because as the story goes, when I was not yet one, three wise men accosted my parents while we were all gathered around a falafel platter and revealed to them that I would one day become a teacher. Or a lecturer. Or maybe attend university, which I did, so you see, never ignore the signs.

Dudu TassaWhich brings us back to Tassa, who himself must have been visited by such wisemen early on because he released his first album, Ohev Et Ha’Shirim (Loving the Songs) at the ripe age of 13. He has gone on to release several more albums since, including 2011’s stellar Dudu Tassa & The Kuwaitis, exploring the indelible legacy that was left on the modern music of Iraq (that’s two) and the Arab world by the al-Kuwaiti brothers, Tassa’s grandfather and great-uncle. The pair’s legendary impact transcended borders, cultures and most importantly, religion. They wrote for the iconic Umm Kultum and were King Faisal’s preferred entertainers. They essentially founded the Iraqi radio station and composed music for the first Iraqi film. There is no doubt that Tassa stands on the shoulders of these giants but in addition, his music is a master class in fusion, fancy guitar fingering (that’s three) and pure fun. He journeys freely back and forth between the music of his family’s heritage, the soundtrack of Israel’s generations and the modern rock of Radiohead. I was thrilled to discover that in addition to the undeniable influence that the latter had on Tassa’s music, the band’s own Jonny Greenwood, considered by many as one of modern rock’s greatest and most innovative guitarists, is featured on Tassa’s hit Eize Yom (What a Day).

As I sit here in bed, tunneling (that’s four) through Dudu Tassa’s nothing-short-of-impressive discography, traveling from the dunes of Baghdad to the dubstep of the post-Marley, purely Borgore Wayak and its beyond epic video, I feel as though I am in high school again. It’s the night before the exam and there is no way that I will ever get through all these books. Every new song I soak in leads me to a new influence to research or an old song to dig up. My headphones slowly become my pillow and the wisemen’s prophecy materializes itself into the most vivid dream; I am in Egypt (that’s five) teaching at the university of Cairo about the goddess Isis (and that’s six). Yes, in my dreams I am an academic. Big deal.  In reality, I am but a concertgoer. So please join me in welcoming Dudu Tassa as he makes his first visit to Montreal at D.B. Clarke Theatre on Thursday August 28th at 8PM.  And the professor somewhere deep inside me implores you to do your homework and listen to the following tracks.
Basof Mitraglim Lehakol
Lo Margish Tov
Yesh Beneinu Bayit
Fog El Nachal

Check The Montreal Jewish Music Festival  site for information and tickets about this and all the shows happening this week in Montreal.


Jon Moyal

Jonathan Moyal is a self-proclaimed music addict who spends his days as Director of Development at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts and nights as father of two children who are prolific pot drummers and kazoo players. You can read more about his hopes and delusions on his blog Http://

Also, check out Moyal’s last music review of Ladino pop band Deleon for Shtetl