Musical Performance: Whacha-maqam-it: Shusmo Gets Mumtastic with Classical Arabic Funk

Fri, November 11, 2011 9:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Shusmo is a secret passageway that winds past all the barriers dividing Arabic maqam from down-and-dirty funk, Latin spark, and swinging jazz. Headed by Palestinian pianist and buzuq player Tareq Abboushi, the quintet leads you to a little underground club where pensive classical forms meet dance floor-friendly vibes, where folk tunes open up into gritty jams. “Shusmo” roughly translates as “whatchamacallit” in Arabic, and, like its name, the group is hard to define. Their aims, however, are clear: a new genre of Arabic music. Their CD, Mumtastic (June 23, 2011; at Joe’s Pub NYC)—a combination of “fantastic” and “mumtaz” (Arabic for “excellent!”)—gets grooves and a progressive acoustic spirit to shake up ancient microtonal modes and complex rhythms.


Tareq Abboushi,
buzuq, vocals, percussion, composer, director
Lefteris Bournias, clarinet
Hector Morales, drums, congas, cajon
Dave Phillips, bass
Zafer Tawil, riq, durbakkeh, cymbals

For more information about the musical philosophy behind the band, read the entire press release for the CD Mumtastic here.


Regular: $15 (buy now), Alwan member: $10 (buy now)*
Member IDs will be checked at the door.

*A small surcharge is applied to online ticket purchases; use printout as your proof of purchase. Tickets also available at the door. Doors open at 8:30 pm.

Group Bio

This progressive New-York-based band was formed by Palestinian musician Tareq Abboushi in the Fall of 2000. Since it's inception, SHUSMO has cultivated a unique identity by creating an innovative and original type of music utilizing a wide range of influences with Arabic music at its core. What makes it stand out is how organically their versatile repertoire blends different genres. It is almost impossible to label the style, thus the name "SHUSMO" which in Arabic means "Whatchamacallit".

Shusmo has recorded music for the film “West Bank-Brooklyn,” and theme music for WBAI’s radio show “Fen Meshnoon with Dean and Maysoon.” Since releasing their first album “One” in February 2005, they have performed at a number of festivals including The Jerusalem Festival (Jerusalem, Palestine), Sounds of the City (New Jersey Performing Arts Center, USA), Atlantic Antic (New York, USA), NextNext Series and Brooklyn Maqam Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (New York, USA), Festival du Monde Arabe de Montreal (Canada), and at the Arab American National Museum (Michigan, USA). Other venues include Joe’s Pub, Queens Museum of Art, Columbia University, New York University, and Alwan for the Arts. The band has just completed their second album "Mumtastic," which was released in the Summer of 2011.

Individual Bios

Tareq Abboushi- Buzuq, Vocals, Percussion, Composer, Director

Abboushi graduated from William Paterson University with a B.M. in Jazz Piano Performance. He began playing the buzuq in1997, starting at the National Conservatory of Music in Palestine. Since his arrival to New York City, he has performed with such notable musicians as Simon Shaheen, David Brosa, Omar Farouk Tekbilek, and Grammy-Award-Winner Dan Zanes in the USA, Canada, the Middle East, and Europe. His teaching profile includes lecture demonstrations at Columbia University, NYU, Juilliard, and Agder University- Norway (2008-2009)among others. Abboushi's discography includes Amir ElSaffar's acclaimed "Two Rivers," and appearances on three albums with Dan Zanes: “Parades and Panoramas,” “House Party” and “Night Time!” (Winner of “Best children's CD of the year” by He composed and performed music for the award-winning film "Chicken Heads" (best short film, 2010 Dubai Film Festival). His participation in other film scores includes the award-winning soundtrack for the film “Encounter Point” (best musical score, 2006 Bend Film Festival), “Man From Plains” (2007) and the Oscar-nominated “Rachel Getting Married” (2008), the last two directed by Johnathan Demme.

Lefteris Bournias- Clarinet

The Greek born Bournias has been a clarinetist since the age of 11. Upon returning to New York with his family, he attended the Aaron Copeland School of Music earning a B.A. in Performance, and a Masters in Music Education. Bournias has performed and recorded with many highly acclaimed musicians amongst them Makis Hristodoulopoulos, Stelios Dionissiou, Peggy Zina, Pitsa Papadopoulou, Doukissa, The New York Pops, and Uri Cane, among others. His style combines traditional Greek, Gypsy, Classical, Turkish Gypsy, and elements of Jazz (rhythmical and harmonic). He plays with soulful fire and intensity making his sound undeniably unique, and making him one of the most sought after clarinetists in New York City.

Hector Morales- Drums, Congas, Cajon

A Peruvian drummer/percussionist, composer, and bandleader. Morales has played and studied Afro-Peruvian music with such masters of the style as Julio “Chocolate” Algendones, Marcos Campos and Carlos Hayre; he later studied Jazz at the prestigious William Paterson University Jazz Program in New Jersey, from where he graduated in 2003. Morales has performed on important stages of Perú, Chile and the U.S.A. such as the National Museum of Perú, GOETHE Institute, “Festival del Huaso” (Chile), “Society of Musicians and Composers of Chile Auditorium”, Barnes Institute, and Columbia University among others. He has also been featured in a video produced by LP (Latin Percussion) with the Afro-Peruvian group “Cambalache Negro.”

Dave Phillips- Bass

Phillips has established himself over the past 15 years as an invaluable collaborator capable of elevating just about any musical situation. He has released numerous CDs with his quartet Freedance, and toured extensively in the US and Europe. In his career as a freelancer he has played Broadway shows and recorded sessions with artists ranging from the Dixie Chicks to Richie Havens and Pink. Phillips explored his interest in music education through more than 60 concerts with the Lincoln Center Institute under direction of Wynton Marsalis and David Berger, while also doing education based performances for the Midori Foundation.

Zafer Tawil- Riq, Durbakkeh, Cymbals

An accomplished Palestinian musician based in New York City. He is a virtuoso on oud, violin, qanun, and is a master of Arabic percussion. He has performed with numerous musicians ranging from pop star Sting to Arab music virtuosos such as Simon Shaheen, Chab Mami, Bassam Saba, and George Ziadeh; to avant-garde composer/performer Elliot Sharpe, among many others. Tawil has held workshops on Arabic Music at many universities in the US and has also composed music for a number of films including Jonathan Demme’s Oscar-nominated “Rachel Getting Married”.

Last updated: 2011-11-11 14:25:06


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