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Issa’s story began long time ago, in a small village in Turkish Kurdistan, when his grand-parents took the road to exile, to a country which, at the time, represented a degree of safety: Lebanon. About thirty years later, someone was born there who is becoming one of the Masters of the bouzouk and one of those Eastern musicians whose contact with other musical horizons make it possible to look forward enthusiastically to what the century present will offer. Because Issa has become a Parisian and gives us the pleasure of hearing a music both rooted in Kurdish culture and impregnated with the flavours and scents of his travels.

His playing shows virtuosity together with the originality one expects from a great musician and the broadminded spirit and musical humour that his fluency in the modal system of the Eastern music allows. But, whether he plays with jazzmen or flamenquists, he is never separated from what constitutes the heart very heart of his music: the Kurdish soul. With his bouzouk he has crossed the world and sung in places as varied as the Institute of the Arab World, the Wild Cabaret, the festivals of Ris Orangis or of Médina of Tunis, Jerusalem or Kensington Town Hall in London. Today, as cultural consultant of the Paris Kurdish Institute Foundation, Issa is as enthusiastic about traditional as by contemporary Kurdish artistic expression.


1970: Born in Beirut (Lebanon) in a Kurdish family originally from Turkish Kurdistan
1982: Danced with dance groups of the Beirut Kurdish association
1984: On arriving in France, joined the dance troop of the Kurdish Institute of Paris, and toured France, Italy and the Netherlands.
1988: Member of the group "Koma Zozan".
1990: Two concerts in Paris in the "Cortot Hall".
1991:  Gave a concert on the occasion of the handing-over of the Paris the Kurdish Institute’s 2nd “Prize of Rememberance” (in the presence of Mrs. Mitterrand and of Nina Simon) at the " Chaillot Theatre" in Paris.
1992: A Television Broadcast (A2) “Matin Bonheur” (Morning Happiness).
1992: Ris-Orangis Festival.
1992: Concert in the Institute of the Arab world, Paris.
1992: Several concerts at Le Bourget (Land of the Future).
1993: Concert at the  " granite theatre" in Belfort.
1995: Releaase of his first album "Gulînar".
1995: Concert at the Nanterre "Media library".
1995: Concert in the "Satellit Café” in Paris.
1996: 3 concerts at the Al medina Festival in Tunis and Sfax (Tunisia).
1996: Concert at the  "Satellit Café" In Paris.
1996: Concert in Paris "Lili the tigress".
1997: Concert at the "Théâtre de Gymnase" in Paris.
1997: Concert with Sivan Perwer (at the Borj Hamoud Stadium) in Beirut (Lebanon).
1997: Concert in Berlin on the occasion of the Kurdish New Year's Day.
1997-1998: "Wild Cabaret" at la Villette — a 3-month show (The raging Nomads)
1998: 2 Concerts in the "Satellit Café".
1998: Music Festival at the Institute of the Arab World, in Paris.
1998: Kurdish Television (Med TV) 2 Broadcasts.
1998: Firkin Cork Cranium -- (Ireland). As accompanists of the "LiatDror” and “Nir Ben Gal" (The Dance of Nothing) dance companies.
1999: Theatre of "Stadt Remsheid" (Germany) as accompanists of the "LiatDror” and “Nir Ben Gal" (The Dance of Nothing) dance companies.
1999: " Berchem Cultural Centre" (Antwerp, Belgium) as accompanists of the "LiatDror” and “Nir Ben Gal" (The Dance of Nothing) dance companies.
2000: Release of the "A Kurd Strolls through Seville" album.
2000: Concert at the "Maroquinerie de Paris" to celebrate the release of the “A Kurd Strolls through Seville” album.
2000: One week of happenings and concerts in Cherbourg (Kurdish identity Festival).
2000: Show case at the "Fnac Saint-Lazare".
2000: Concert "Café de la dance" in Paris, in the context of the “Beautiful Ramadan Nights” series.
At the end of 2000: Release of the "Tooting Broadway" album.
2001: Release of "The Art of Bouzouk" album.
2001: 3 Concerts at the "Satellit Café" in Paris.
2001: Concert at “Onze bouge” Festival at the "Bataclan", Paris.
2001: 13 performances of the "Scenes de cirque "(Circus Scenes) show at the Cabaret Sauvage (Wild Cabaret) Paris (LA Villette).
2001: Concert at the "Divan du Monde", in Paris.
2003: Concert in the "Gavroches" Hall, Nanterre, in the context of their "Musics of Turkey" Week.
2003: Concert in Nice, the "Musicalia" Festival, Théâtre du Verdure.
2003: Concert at the "Humanité Fête", Paris.
2003: Concert at "l’Européen", Paris, in the context of the Foreign Cultures Week".
2003: Concert in the "Satellit Café" in the context of the "Festival de la Route des Sons".
2003: 3 concerts in Taipei, Taiwan.
2003: Concert at the "7 lézards", Paris.
2004: Concert at "la Mounède", Toulouse.
2004: 2 duet concerts (piano and bouzouk) at the  "Scarabée" at La Verrière and at la Courneuve.
2004: Kurdish New Year (Newroz) concert at the Paris City Hall.
2004: Concert in the "Music at the Bar" series (Fontenay-sous-Bois).
2004: Duet Concert (piano and bouzouk) at Arcachon (in the context of the annual Piano Tuners’ Congress).
2004: Concert as a guest of the Lebanese trumpet player Ibrahim Maalouf with the Embarcadère (Landing Stage) (Lyon). Filmed and will be broadcast on Mezzo TV for 3 years.

Fellow travellers .....

The musicians are of Kurdish, Turkish, French, Egyptian and Lebanese origin. The main point they have in common point is their openness and that they are attracted by improvised music. Each explores new paths in his own sphere, like Issa who mixes Bouzouk with another form of lute, the Saz or Elie whose melodies, joining those of the bouzouk, are like so many threads embroidering new motifs...

ELIE Maalouf

A pianist, originally from Zahlé in the Lebanon, he is Issa’s principal partner in this project. Following his encounter with a Kurdish workman (and spare-time musician) on a building site at Zahlé, Elie became interested in Kurdish music and instruments. On returning to Paris, he contacted the Kurdish Institute and becomes acquainted with Issa.

The encounter between Issa and Elie was initially musical before becoming a strong friendship and artistic commitment. Quickly, they invited one another to their concerts to present some of these new compositions.

The marriage of their two types of music was not self evident, as there is no precedent for such a dialogue between piano and bouzouk, these instruments belonging to very divergent musical spheres ...

However, Issa and Elie have both the tenacity of the self-taught people who had to fight to progress in their art. Thus Elie has not only this double, Eastern and Western, musical culture but also a real imagination which enables him elegantly to resolve the inevitable tensions between modal music and harmonization...

Perhaps it is necessary to see his really atypical career path: starting off self-taught, he managed to enter to the Toulouse Academy, then followed the teaching of Billy Eidi on the piano and Bernard Maury in harmony, to finish with training in jazz at the American School of Modern Music in Paris

Haroun Teboul

Has been a companion since their first meetings, who forsook for a while the music of the dancing dervishes to mingle his ottoman ney with these definitely very cosmopolitan encounters.

Emek Evci

He is a double bass player of Turkish origin. His malicious smile fits perfectly with the surprising melodic scales of his bass lines ...

Educated at Paris Academy a jazz enthusiast ever since he spent a period at the "New School of Music of New York", Emek is appreciated by the many musicians of the capital’s musical world.

Adel Shams-DIN

THE Egyptian percussionist of Paris, "The Boss", whose "groove" backed and enlivened the music of so many artists, can switch from the darbouka to the bendir and dazzle all musicians by the multiple sonorities he can draw from as small an instrument as the req. He joined this sophisticated combination between Jazz and Kurdish music with pleasure... Indeed, these musicians each brought their personal musical quality, discovered one another and then appreciated the sonority of the ensemble all the more easily in that their music harmonized and naturally matched one another’s.

Manuel Delgado

A guitarist of Spanish origin, he was one of the first partners in the experiment of "respectful interbreeding" of the flamenco guitar and the bouzouk.

Listening to Manuel, we travel in the particular universe of the true flamenco.

24 November 2006 Anounce ! Issa at Musiques au Comptoir
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