Le Trio Joubran are three brothers born in Israel with Palestinian roots. They come from a family of oud makers. Now they have turned their passion into a career, but are often asked to talk politics in interviews.
"AsFar" is the name of the latest album from Le Trio Joubran from Nazareth. AsFar means "to travel" in Arabic and is also a word play on the English words "as far." Le Trio Joubran has certainly come a long way.
"The album combines all the colors, sounds and impressions that we have been exposed to," says Wissam. The three brothers see themselves as privileged, due to their ability to travel around the world freely. Their Palestinian countrymen from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip do not have that freedom.
Le Trio Joubran are a unique band, and not just because they consist of three brothers. Up until now, the oud, an instrument which has its roots in ancient Mesopotamia, has mainly been played as a solo instrument. The trio from Nazareth are the first group to successfully combine three ouds at the same time.
A unique combination
Leader of the group is 39-year-old Samir Joubran, the eldest of the three brothers. He and his brothers were born in Israel, the sons of an oud maker and a singer from Nazareth. Officially they are classified as Israeli Arabs, but the three see themselves as Palestinians. "Somehow," Samir says, "we can never be just musicians." After concerts or at the end of interviews, the group are often drawn into talking about politics. "We will stop talking about politics once we have got a Palestine. While the people are still living under occupation, that's not possible."
The brothers all left home early to experience life outside of Israel and the Palestinian territories. Samir went to study music at the Cairo Conservatorium of Music. Wissam studied violin construction at the Stradivari Conservatorium in Cremona in Italy. In 2003 he formed a musical partnership with his brother. In 2005, Adnan - the youngest brother - joined the pair. "AsFar" is the third album from the trio.
Improvisation is key
By now the brothers have spent so much time playing music together that when it comes to recording an album, they often just improvise their pieces in the studio. The ouds which they play on are made by Wissam Joubran himself. "The relationship between me and my oud is like a loving relationship", he says. "I work on the instruments for a long time, but when they are finished, then they have their own sound, their own soul."
The brothers are now based in France. This is where they produce their recordings and perform the majority of their concerts. But Adnan says it is still important to the band that they are taken seriously in their homeland.
In the West, the band see themselves as ambassadors for Palestinian culture. When they play back in the Palestinian territories they have nothing to prove. The crowds are nonetheless demanding: "When our new songs work there, we know that they are ready for the rest of the world. Then I have the feeling that we can take an album on tour."