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From Baghdad to Tel Aviv and Back: An Israeli Star Digs Into His Grandfather’s Music

Dudu Tassa immerses himself in the Arabic music of his late grandfather and reinterprets it for modern audiences

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Dudu Tassa performing songs from his album Dudu Tassa and the Kuwaitis in Tel Aviv.(Daniel Estrin)

Dudu Tassa is a major figure in the Israeli rock scene. The singer-songwriter and guitarist released his first album when he was just 13, produces music for television and film, and has collaborated with international heavy weights like Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead. Since he was a kid, Tassa has had a vague idea that his late grandfather was an important musician in his native Iraq, but it was only recently that he came to understand just how important: Tassa’s grandfather and great-uncle, Daoud and Saleh Al Kuwaiti, are considered by some critics to be the founders of modern Iraqi music. Their legacy was nearly forgotten when Tassa dug up old recordings of his grandfather’s music and set them to a modern groove. The result, the album Dudu Tassa and the Kuwaitis, came out in 2011. Now, for the first time, he’s bringing this music to the United States, starting with a performance at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City this Wednesday, at SXSW in Austin, Texas, this weekend, and in San Francisco next week. Reporter Daniel Estrin met up with Dudu Tassa last week at his apartment in Tel Aviv to find out more about this unusual roots and rock project.

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From Baghdad to Tel Aviv and Back: An Israeli Star Digs Into His Grandfather’s Music

Dudu Tassa immerses himself in the Arabic music of his late grandfather and reinterprets it for modern audiences

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