Interview with Oud Maestros Le Trio Joubran

Le Trio Joubran is an acclaimed ensemble featuring the Joubran brothers: Samir, Wissam and Adnan. The three musicians are oud (Arabic lute) maestros and play a superb fusion of Arabic music and global music influences.

Le Trio Joubran’s most recent recording, The Long March is the number one album on the March 2019 Transglobal World Music Chart. Adnan Joubran talked to World Music Central about the trio and the Long March.

Le Trio Joubran – Photo by Karim Ghattas

What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?

Depth of emotions, is one of the essential elements of our music, Le Trio Joubran do their best to understand why they use a note better than another, how a melody becomes a melody, an image first, a direction, a feeling, and a message, some melodies start with a moment of a life for one of the group, and this develops into a concept, and then a melody.

As composers, we aim to bring back or revive emotions that we human beings began to put a side, unfortunately, media, social media has made us numb, and made us live an illusionary life of strength, beauty, power and glory, which isn’t much of a reflection of reality.

Other musical element such “Improvisation” which we always make sure that the album has, or the performance has, to keep our musicality on alert, and or brotherhood on motion, us improvising means alive, means changing, from concert to another, means discover yourself, and let the other discover you better.

Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

Lately, quiet few! Hard not to mention the career of Paco de Lucia and Keith Jarrett for Adnan, and classical artists such as Abdel Wahab for Samir, and the influence of traditional Arabic singing for Wissam.

In the same time, we all listen to different music, jazz, tango, pop, rock, tango and classical Western and Eastern! I believe one should listen and keep listening to all types of music, we find elements that inspire in every genre of music.

Le Trio Joubran – Photo by Luc Jennepin

How did the ensemble evolve from your first recordings?

The first recording I reckon was experimental in a way that we were trying to see if it works, and it did!

To have three oud players, composers, virtuosos, is a big challenge. We achieved success because we are brothers and we could handle this quiet tough mission well because we allowed ourselves to unveil hidden sides of us, others could like or dislike, but trust, which is another meaning of “brotherhood” could allow this.

At that period, the composition was a secondary target, although today, we have proved to ourselves that it works, that there should be no limit in composition, and there isn’t always a need to prove our technical skills. Today, we stop by the title, and we stop by the message. We make sure that the message is there and the composition should serve it, by complexity, length, directivity, sounds and instruments, and notes.

Le Trio Joubran – The long March

Tell us a little about your new album The Long March.

Two years of discussions and two other years of recordings! Not that it should take that long! But we have been busy touring with previous album, and small projects on the side, such as music for films and important shows, and also because we live apart now, each with his growing family, and each in a different country. We get to meet in tours and discuss and then dedicate a period of recording. But this time has given maturity for the tracks and the ideas.

In this album, we tried to achieve a wider listeners, and introduce the oud to a bigger public, also we tried to introduce new sounds to the listeners of the oud. We have electronics, orchestral, tribal sounds, and vocals. The oud is the singer, and all the other elements support the singer to represent the story.

The body of the album is the poem of Mahmoud Darwish, which says the message of the album. The tracks titles are extracted from this text that is trying to tell this world of industry and world of power, that we are humans. Before and after all, our humanity should remain, despite the reality of wiping it away, and before this power can wipe it away, we will defend everything we have, even our final songs.

We have collaborated with the musical producer Renaud Letang, which an amazing experience, to hand over our baby (composition) and another musician and master of production looks at it and takes the essence of it.

Also we had the privilege to collaborate with Roger Waters for two tracks: one single which we released as a video clip under the title “Supremacy” before the album; and another track, “Carry The Earth” in the album as a dedication to four boys killed on the beach of Gaza by the Israeli forces.

As well with Mohammad Motamdi, an amazing vocalist and singer from Iran; an oriental orchestra from Turkey; as well as a western orchestra from Macedonia; and many other talented musicians!

We have succeeded to color the album. Each title to have a different color and influence, and in the same to have a one message uniting the while tracks.

The three brothers play oud, the Arabic lute. Where did they get the training?

We come from family blended with music and oud making, our father is the third generation in the family who builds the instrument.

Samir, the eldest, had his elder brother the Oud in the house! He studied with a local teacher, and then went to Cairo to learn music.

Wissam started at a young age learning music and violin, and then took the oud as his language as well as studying in Italy (Antonio Stradivari Institute) violin making.

Adnan, had two brothers that are oud players and one father oud maker, so he had no choice to escape this world! Only at the age of 16, he took the instrument in his hands and tried to play, and by the age of 18 he was on stage touring after self-training and listening to his brothers and many other music and musicians.

Who makes your ouds?

Wissam Joubran.

Where are your currently based?

Adnan in London, Samir between Paris and Ramallah, and Wissam in Paris.

Le Trio Joubran – Photo by Louise Feugier.jpg

Do you have any initiatives to transmit Palestinian and Arabic music traditions to new generations?

Of course, in each album we make sure there is a track that is a traditional way of composing and playing, and we make sure the on stage we have one traditional improvisation. Still, there is more initiative for a more dedicated album only for traditional music.

If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with, whom would that be?

Some of them died. Many of them are alive! Hard to mention names, because there are too many! Me, personally, I’d love to play with Keith Jarrett.

Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?

We are very proud of our last album, we have just finished it and glad to share it with you and the rest of the world. There will be soon a very big collaboration with a mainstream artist, but we are not to uncover this surprise now 🙂

More about Le Trio Joubran and its discography.

headline photo: Le Trio Joubran – Photo by Myriam Boulos

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.
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