Spy Work for Musicians

When I was looking for visuals for my article on the double bass and Middle Eastern music I found this picture on this YouTube video:

It looked kind of old, and you can see a somehow awkward looking double bass scroll in the background. After hearing the music I had a feeling this might be an old picture of Naim Rejwan, the bass player of the Israeli broadcasting authority Arabic music orchestra that was active between 1948-1993. I have interviewed Naim for the same article and knew that pictures of him and his bass from Israel’s 50’s were hard to find. I have decided to further investigate. I have contacted the channel administrator by email and asked if he had any idea who it was and when it was taken.

It turns out the YouTube channel administrator is the son of the singer in the picture and he has also made a movie about his life. His father, Magdi (Yitzhak Basson) was a famous singer in Iraq, but being a Jew, in 1950’s Iraq – just a few years after the state of Israel was founded, he decided to leave and immigrate to Israel. In Israel he was recruited to the Mosad- the Israeli intelligence agency, and lived the double life of a spy. This made his public performances impossible and made him restrict his career to singing on the radio.

An interview with his son and parts of the film he made can be seen here in this very interesting Al-Jazira report:

The bass player in the picture is indeed Naim Rajwan and it was taken in 1957. Thank you Assaf Basson.

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