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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

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Le Trio Joubran Tops the March 2019 Transglobal World Music Chart

The Long March by Le Trio Joubran is the number one album in the March 2019 Transglobal World Music Chart. Le Trio Joubran features three Palestinian brothers who are ud masters: Samir, Wissam and Adnan.

The March 2019 Chart

  1. Le Trio Joubran – The Long March – Cooking Vinyl
  2. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – Miri – Outhere
  3. Urna Chahar-Tugchi featuring Kroke – Ser – Urna Chahar-Tugchi / UCT
  4. Dhafer Youssef – Sounds of Mirrors – Anteprima
  5. Belonoga – Through the Eyes of the Earth – NarRator Records
  6. Vardan Hovanissian & Emre Gültekin – Karin – Muziekpublique
  7. Ukandanz – Yeketelale – Buda Musique
  8. Tartit – Amankor / The Exile – Riverboat / World Music Network
  9. Salif Keita – Un Autre Blanc – Naïve
  10. Rodopi Ensemble – Thraki: Thrace, the Paths of Dionysus – ARC Music
  11. Kel Assouf – Black Tenere – Glitterbeat
  12. Leyla McCalla – The Capitalist Blues – Jazz Village / PIAS
  13. Alfredo Rodríguez & Pedrito Martínez – Duologue – Mack Avenue
  14. Oratnitza – Alter Ethno – Fusion Embassy
  15. Kitka – Evening Star – Diaphonica
  16. Debashish Bhattacharya, Hubert Zemler & Wojtek Traczyk – Joy!Guru – Unzipped Fly
  17. Kelly Thoma – Ama Kopasoun oi Kairoi (As the Winds Die Down) – Kelly Thoma
  18. Moonlight Benjamin – Siltane – Ma Case
  19. Ali Hassan Kuban – From Nubia to Cairo – Piranha
  20. Shooglenifty & Dhun Dhora – Written in Water – Shoogle

More about the chart: www.transglobalwmc.com

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Artist Profiles: Wissam Joubran

Le Trio Joubran

Wissam Joubran was born in 1983, and was introduced very young to ud by his brother Samir. He attended numerous local and international festivals, among them the Printemps de Palestine, in France in 1997.

He has inherited of his father’s vocation, a stringed-instrument maker master, and is strikingly talented in improvising and creating clever and appropriate transitions between the Arabic Maqams.

Wissam was the first string-instrument maker from the Arabic world to enter the Antonio Stradivari Institute (Italy) in order to bring his knowledge to perfection. Samir and Wissam started to go on tour outside of the Middle East on August 2002, and their reputation never stopped to grow while they performed in Europe, Canada and Brazil.

Discography

Randana (Randana, 2005)
Majaz (Randana, 2007)
À l’ombre des mots (2008)
AsFar, with Dhafer Youssef (2011)
The First Ten Years (2013)

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Le Trio Joubran to Perform at Barbican in London 2019

Award-winning Palestinian oud ensemble Le Trio Joubran is set to perform on Sunday, February 3rd, 2019, at Barbican Hall in London.

The three musicians will present new material from their sixth album The Long March (Cooking Vinyl). The new recording includes collaborations from poet Mahmoud Darwish and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters.

Le Trio Joubran features brothers Samir, Wissam and Adnan Joubran. They come from a well-known family with rich artistic heritage: their father is one of the world’s most acclaimed oud makers and their mother is a muwashahat singer.

The trio’s music is inspired by Arabic music, jazz and flamenco. Earlier recordings include Tamaas (2002), Randana (2005), Majâz (World Village, 2007), À l’ombre des mots (2008), Le Dernier VoL (2009), AsFâr (World Village, 2011) and The First Ten Years (2013) boxed set.

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Artist Profiles: Le Trio Joubran

Le Trio Joubran

Renowned throughout the Arab world, Le Trio Joubran is led by Palestinian ud virtuoso Samir Joubran. Samir performs in duo or trio lineups with his younger brothers: Wissam Joubran and Adnan Joubran.

Samir and his brothers are the sons of a master luthier, who is the son of a master luthier; a family steeped in the ancient history of the ud, the Arabic lute.

Their mother sang in a Muashahat (a classical Arabic poetry/music form) ensemble and their father is an ud crafter known throughout the Arab world. The brothers were born in the Galilean city of Nazareth in a family with a strong musical tradition.

The three sons perform on uds built by Wissam, who was the first Arabic luthier to graduate from the Stradivarius Institute in Cremona, Italy, where he mastered the construction of violins and uds.

Le Trio Joubran

Le Trio Joubran was born when elder brother Samir listened to the jazz/rock/flamenco guitar trio of Al Di Meola (USA), Paco de Lucia (Spain), and John McLaughlin (UK).

The trio’s first CD together, Randana, was the first meeting of an ud trio. “We wanted to experiment composing for three uds,” says Samir. “It was a challenge and the music was experimental. Through our touring we gained confidence which makes the music on Majaz different. It’s more accessible to a wider public; it’s more clear, transparent, and joyful but with sadness in the background, and yet proud. We introduce percussion in a very subtle way, sensitive and present. Three uds are there with three different personalities, but together.”

Le Trio Joubran released The Long March in 2018. The trio teamed up with former Pink Floyd singer, bassist and activist Roger Waters for the track Carry the Earth. The song is dedicated to all those who die for their land but especially to a tragic event when four young cousins were murdered and lost their dreams while playing football (soccer), as they’d done so many times before, on Gaza Beach. The title of this track is from a poem by the legendary Arabic poet Mahmoud Darwish – “the dead who die to carry the earth after the relics are gone”.

Le Trio Joubran – The Long March

The Joubran brothers once more collaborated with Darwish for the track “Time Must Go By,” where the poet’s timeless words met the Trio’s sound in a wonderful union.

Brian Eno who has spent time with the band in the recording studio says “The Trio Joubran talents as musicians are complemented by their compassion as human beings. Their longstanding and determined commitment has made them a symbol of Palestinian identity and resistance. Trio Joubran, in its brilliant and fiery exuberance, sends out a message: Palestine is alive.”

Discography:

Randana (Randana, 2005)
Majaz (Randana, 2007)
À l’ombre des mots (2008)
AsFar, with Dhafer Youssef (2011)
The First Ten Years (2013)
The Long March (Cooking Vinyl, 2018)

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