Le Trio Joubran

Go anywhere in the Arab world, and one sound is omnipresent, bumping from car stereos and wafting hypnotically through narrow café-laden streets — the oud. This traditional lute instrument gets taken for an improv joyride with Majâz ("metaphor" in Arabic), the new release from Le Trio Joubran, a classical yet unconventional threesome composed of virtuoso Palestinian brothers Adnan, Samir, and Wissam. And these guys certainly know their ouds. Hailing from a family of oud players and fabricators going back four thousand years, they perform on instruments specially built by Wissam. Traditionally, ouds aren't played in trios, but this trio weaves flamenco, jazz, and rock elements into their sound. The result on Majâz is an enthralling collection of tracks that celebrates the rich cultural and family heritage they are steeped in. Songs like "Masâr" and "Shajan" begin slowly, with each note and haunting pause keeping the listener anticipating how the cuts may unfold into frantic crescendos. "Laytana" finds the brothers masterfully playing off one another and the album's complementary percussionist Youssef Hbeish during individual solo surges. It's not for every listener — you won't find the next Pop-40 track on Majâz, but you will discover a sonically blissful album that serves as a prime introduction to a modern take on a historic sound. So sit back, have a long relaxing draw on the water pipe, and let Le Trio Joubran carry you away.

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