The album was released years ago. Why are we reviewing it now? Because Tassa’s been on tour? OK. It’s good anyway. Born in Tel-Aviv, he worked himself into a pop-rock career (sunglasses, cheekbones) before discovering that his migrant grandfather and grandfather’s brother had once been musicians too. They were the Al-Kuwaiti Brothers of Iraq, pioneers of Iraqi radio, respected by Oum Kalthoum and emirs and sultans, but, Jewish, compelled to flee to Israel where their musical lives crashed while the Arabs tried to delete the past by removing their names from their songs. On Dudu Tassa and the Kuwaitis the grandson renovates their oud-noosing dignity with his own taste, kicking up the speed and throwing guitar burn into “Lo Thareeb Ana Wethroch”. The direct sound of the men in front of the microphone gets broken up and reconfigured. But Tassa makes a point of letting you know that he wants to embrace the other music, not erase it – for example, when he uses an old recording to open “Ya Nabaat el Reechan” and eases his singing voice in as if he’s just another member of the group. They’ve already been erased once: he’s not going to do it to them again. Nor is he going to cover up their Iraqi-ness with Israel-ness. A good rapprochement, tender not timid.
Dudu Tassa and the Kuwaitis
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