Monday, April 07, 2014

REORIENT on Mizrahi music

REORIENT recently published a fine overview of Mizrahi music in Egypt and current efforts to keep the Arab Jewish tradition alive, by Mohamed Belmaaza. He, I think correctly, labels the current generation of cultural activists 'Neo-Arab-Jews,' due to the fact that they have not been educated in standard Arabic, unlike their parents and grandparents who were born in the Arab world.

Belmaaz discusses the fabulous Neta Elkayam, about whom I hope to blog in future, and he cites the work of scholars of Mizrahi music Motti Regev, Edwin Seroussi, and Amy Horowitz. And there is much more.

But the bit that I found most interesting, and the most moving, is the discussion of David Regev Zaarour, grandson of the renowned Iraqi musician Youssef Zaarour. David Regev Zaarour "recently decided to pay tribute to his family by uploading on YouTube all of his grandfather’s recordings. ‘I had to put [the recordings] on YouTube to make [them] memorable. I got reactions and photos from people, especially from Iraq’, he says in a short documentary he created. As well, David also preserves the cultural legacy of his family and his roots by performing Arabic Iraqi and Egyptian music in his band, La Falfoula."

Here is a link to his archive youtube videos, which is quite remarkable. It includes not just music from Youssef Zaarour but by other Iraqi musicians as well. And also some vids of his group La Falfoula. Below is just a sample, but you should explore the entire archive.

Also very noteworthy is the video about David and his grandfather by Jewish Daily Forward. I was particularly moved by the phone call between David and an Iraqi, who pays tribute to the Iraqi Jewish musicians and states that is a national shame that their contribution to the country's is forgotten and not recognized.

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