single artist

Moneka Arabic Jazz

Ahmed Moneka, Moneka Arabic Jazz

Recipient of a 2019 Stingray Rising Star prize for emerging talent presented at the TD Jazz Festival.

Ahmed Moneka has made himself indispensable to the collective narrative behind both theatre and music in Canada. Driven by love with inspiration to preserve the unique perspective of an Iraqi immigrant in the Canadian diaspora, Ahmed began by humbly presenting himself to the audiences in Toronto. He participated in numerous projects and organizations such as the Canadian Opera Company, Tafelmusik, Aga Khan Museum, Koerner Hall, Driftwood Theatre, Jaberi Dance Company and Lula World.

Ahmed founded Moneka Arabic Jazz, a new project rooted in jazz and blues, based on his Afro rhythms and Iraqi Maqam style of singing. Moneka Arabic Jazz is a project Ahmed created to share his culture and tradition. He grew up up in Baghdad, and was forced to move to Toronto four years ago. Iraq was where he learned Arabic music (Maqam) and was bathed in the rhythm and ritual songs of his African descendants in Iraq by his family. Today, Ahmed, in collaboration with five outstanding musicians is sharing his music and infinite love with all.

As he often says he is “honoured to share this projects with his angels” referring to the incredible local musicians. With Moneka Arabic Jazz, a distinct, funky and unique sound with flourishing spiritual and intellectual pursuits is created; with experiences which will be told in his art in the years to come.

Group bios

Waleed Abdulhamid – bass guitar, vocals. Waleed was born in Sudan and began performing at the age of 6. He toured across his country, as well as Egypt, Syria, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Waleed is known for bringing traditional rhythms into popular music in Sudan.

Demetri Petsalakis – guitar, oud. From, Greece, Demetri Petsalakis performs on Greek and Middle Eastern lutes. A busy freelancer, Demetri performs with world music groups and orchestras and holds a Master of Music degree in jazz guitar and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in music from York University.

Fathi Najem – electric violin, kora. Fathi began his musical journey in Algeria, learning Arabic violin. World music collaborations there introduced him to the kora which he plays in a variety of world music contexts.

Ernie Tollar – Sax, Arabic flute. has performed jazz sax internationally and also plays Raga and Maqam music from India and the Arab world.

Max Sennitt – Drum Kit. Max is one of Toronto’s most in demand drum kit players who mixes Jazz and Funk easily with traditional musics.