Profile - Koby Israelite


Photo of Koby Israelite
All photos of Koby Israelite this page by Richard A. Sharma.
Copyright © 2004 Richard A. Sharma. All rights reserved.
 Artist: Koby Israelite
 Born: 1966/11/23
 Active: 1980s onward
 Group Members:  
 Genre/s: 1) World | Jewish
2) Jazz
3) Rock
 Sub-Genre/s: 1) Contemporary, Other
2) World Jazz
3) Heavy Metal

 Instrument/s: accordion, drums, keyboards, melodica, piano, percussion, flutes, guitar (electric)
 Date Info First Pub'd: 2003/05/10 (upd. 2009/11)
   Based: London, UK
   Contact: email
   Web Site:
    Koby Israelite A/V Page

Purchasing Info

Photo of Koby Israelite with Numan Elyer and Daphna Sadeh during a Voyagers gig
Koby Israelite in performance with Daphna Sadeh & The Voyagers, here with, L-R, Numan Elyer and Daphna Sadeh

Photo of Koby Israelite

Israeli-born Koby Israelite, now based in London, is a highly gifted and versatile multi-instrumentalist. In live performances, he nowadays specialises on his beloved accordion.

He studied piano at the Tel Aviv conservatoire from the age of nine, and became interested in playing percussion at fourteen, at first playing on a make-shift kit of old drums and a broken cymbal. He started playing with local bands at school, playing punk covers with Hebrew lyrics. At seventeen, Israelite started studying drums with 'The David Rich Drumming School" in Tel Aviv, studying for a full two years. Deeply into heavy metal music, he played in the first speed metal band in Israel. But inspiration throughout his drumming education also came heavily from jazz, and Koby Israelite lists Tony Williams, Peter Erskine and Jack DeJohnette as major influences.

Following a three year stint in the Israeli army, Koby Israelite moved to England, at first working as a part-time musician while doing a variety of other jobs to keep body and soul together. By 1994, he made the move to working full time, at first as a session drummer, recording and touring with a variety of artists, gigging five to six nights a week. Finally, in 1999 Israelite was in a position to also start writing and recording his own music.

His first major project was the album Tequila Girls, a sophisticated Latin pop flavoured album co-written with Adam Rogers that so nearly resulted in a major record label contract. However, Koby Israelite by this time realized that he and his music would not sit well with the creativity-devoid ethos of the majors, and he certainly lacks the commonly required qualifications of the age of talentlessness, lack of imagination and creativity.

In 2001, Israelite's debut solo album, I Think Therefore I'm Not Sure followed. This project wasn't tied to any particular genre, style, or other pre-conceived formula and resulted in a fresh fusion of funk, rock, Middle Eastern, and tango. An uncompromisingly personal work, it featured outstanding guest musicians in the form of Sid Gauld on trumpet, Stefan Redtenbacher on bass and Gilad Atzmon on clarinet and sax.

Early that same year, Koby Israelite attended a performance by Romanian gipsy band, Taraf de Haidouks and was instantly hooked. This was, in a way, a discovery of new roots (his mother being of Romanian origin). Eventually, this was to lead to the inspiration for Israelite's next album, the 2003 release Dance of the Idiots on the Tzadik label. This is a finely crafted, highly personal and complex exploration of Jewish music, the Jewish experience, even the human condition. Utterly genre-defying, it is a fusion of just about every form of Jewish music, plus rock/heavy metal, jazz, Middle Eastern, Balkan, and more. In both scope and innovation, this album is Beatle-esque. A kind of 21st century, Jewish-oriented and inspired Revolver, Sergeant Pepper or White Album. (Others have also likened it to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon in its feel.) Dance of the Idiots is freely flowing streams of consciousness music at its very finest.

Koby Israelite's many prestigious credits include recordings of Middle Eastern percussion for the Discovery Channel; drums and guitar on Alison David's One Last Look on Bittersweet Records; accordion, percussion and piano with composer/performer Simon Fisher-Turner for a recital at London's South Bank that was also broadcast live by BBC Radio 3 in 2002. 2003 was a busy year with guest appearances on Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble's sensational album Exile (Enja), winner of the BBC Jazz Awards Best Album 2003 (accordion on tracks 2, 5, 6, and 8); and on John Zorn's Unknown Masada on Tzadik (performed one track); and performing and touring with Daphna Sadeh (on accordion), of whose then recently formed band Daphna Sadeh & The Voyagers he also remained a full-time member until 2008, as well as with The Amazing Assaf's Explicit Lifestyles (drums). Israelite's production credits include One Last Look for Alison David on Bittersweet (2000), three re-mixes for Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble's Futuristico on Turns (2001), and one track on John Zorn's Unknown Masada on Tzadik (2003), as well as his own solo albums Dance of the Idiots (2003), Mood Swings (2004), Orobas: Book of Angels Vol 4 (2006) on Tzadik, King Papaya (2009) on Circus Mayhem Records, and Is He Listening? (2009) on Tzadik.

Furthermore, Koby Israelite's composer credits include the score (and performance) for a cable television 'Surf Advertisement' in 2001; the music (and performance) for the Israeli Television series No Boundaries in 2002; and, also in 2002, the score for a documentary film by Oscar-nominee Yoni Kohen.

In the last few years Israelite has also taken to performing with his own Koby Israelite Band, whose line-up currently consists of ace bassist Yaron Stavi, John Turville on keyboards, Eran Kendler on guitar and Oded Kafri on drums. An unstoppably inventive, versatile artist, Israelite not only produces music that is genre-bending, genre-defying and of the utmost imaginativeness but also redefines the accordion in the context of modern music. Led Zep meets Taraf de Haidouks, with hard-hitting jazz, rock/metal, Middle Eastern, Balkans, gypsy and lyrical in the mix.

© 2003-2009 Rainlore's World of Music/Rainlore

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Album Cover - Dance of the Idiots
  Dance of the Idiots

Album Cover - Mood Swings Mood Swings
Album Cover - Orobas
Orobas: Book of Angels Vol 4

Album Cover - King Papaya
King Papaya

Album Cover - Is He Listening
Is He Listening?



1999 Tequila Girls

2001 I Think Therefore I'm Not Sure

2003 Dance of the Idiots (Tzadik)

2004 Mood Swings (Tzadik)

2006 Orobas: Book of Angels Vol 4 (Tzadik)

2009 King Papaya (Circus Mayhem Records)

2009 Is He Listening? (Tzadik)




Appears on

2000 Alison David - One Last Look (Bittersweet Records) (drums, guitar)

2003 John Zorn - Unknown Masada (Tzadik)

2003 Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble - Exile (Enja) (accordion)

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Other Info

See also reviews of Koby Israelite's gigs with Daphna Sadeh & The Voyagers



Purchasing Info:

Koby Israelite's recordings can be purchased:
From Jewish Music Distribution JMD UK

From most general CD stores and online sources such as Amazon etc.

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