Hailing from a family of oud-makers, the three brothers who compose the Trio Joubran turned their childhood passion for the lute into their profession. Separating their music from politics is impossible, they say.
"AsFar" - the third album by Nazareth-based Le Trio Joubran - means "to travel" in Arabic, but also plays on the English "as far." And indeed, Trio Joubran has traveled far and wide.
"The album unites all the colors and smells we've encountered and the impressions we've had," said Wissam, one of the trio's three brothers. The men consider themselves privileged since they can travel the world freely, unlike their fellow Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Music in their blood
Le Trio Joubran is unusual - not only because three brothers make up the group, but because it is composed of three virtuosi on the lute. Up to now, the Arabic oud has mainly been considered a solo instrument, but the trio demonstrates just how diverse the instrument can be.
The three were born in Israel to an oud-maker father and a singer mother from Nazareth. Officially called "Israeli Arabs," they see themselves as Palestinians. Musicians and Palestinians, they stress. Samir - at 39, the eldest of the brothers - says they could never be just musicians. Even if they don't want to talk about politics, it always turns to that anyway at the end of a concert or an interview. Samir says he will only stop talking about politics when a true Palestine has been established.
"But as long as people have to live in an occupied territory, that's not going to happen," he noted.
The brothers have learned how to deal with the political situation at home. Samir moved off at a young age to go to Cairo, Egypt, to study music at a conservatory, and toured for many years as a solo artist. Wissam, the middle brother, went to Cremona, Italy, to learn violin-making at the Stradivari Conservatory before pairing off with Samir to play the oud in 2003. Adnan, the youngest, joined the two in 2005.
The brothers are now so used to playing together that they often just improvise when they are recording their pieces in the studio. Wissam builds the ouds they play.
"The relationship between me and my oud is like a love relationship," he said. "I spend a lot of time building one, but once it's completed, it has its own sound, its own nature."
Around the world
The brothers have meanwhile set up shop in France, where they coordinate their recordings and concerts - and where they are quite well-known. But it's important to them that people listen to their music back home, as well, says Adnan. In the West, they show people that Palestinians have their own culture and music, but in Palestine, they don't have to prove anything.
A concert in front a Palestinian audience is always something of a test, said Samir. "If it works there, then it will work in the rest of the world," he explained, adding, "Then I have the feeling that I can hit the road with the album."
Author: Diana Hodali / als
Editor: Greg Wiser