As the oldest of the brothers, Samir, told us they would love it if we would invite them to play during the summer for a change as each of the 4 or 5 times they had performed in Montreal previously had also been in January or February. You've got to hand it to these guys who are used to much warmer climates – they keep coming!
One of the major reasons they keep coming regardless of cold, sleet, snow or rain is their obvious love for what they do. Trio Joubran are three brothers (Samir, Wissam and Adnan) who play the oud. The oud is a Middle Eastern 12-string instrument which is an ancestor of the guitar. They are shorter and have fatter bodies, but the sounds they make are beautiful and haunting. The Joubran brothers have brought the sounds of the oud and music of their native Palestine to people all over the world.
Starting off the concert the eldest, Samir, spoke in French to introduce the group. He joked that before the concert that he was not focused on what they were going to play, but the speech he was going to have to make. After at first taking this lightly, I realized after listening to the brothers play for a couple of minutes that he was not bragging when he said he did not think about what they were about to play. They are marvelously talented all three of them and what they play seems to flow through them. Though they all play very distinctive parts and harmonize beautifully when you listen to them it is as if they are playing as one. Where one leaves off another takes up. There is wonderful interplay between the three as they take turns playing lead. The music they play (which is all written by Samir) is telling of the type of existence that most Palestinians have lived through. Their music is wistful and sad while at the same time displaying hope. Palestinian music is a mixture of Arab beats with the influence of their Spanish colonizers. The brothers use the music to share their culture, language and identities.
The oud is the instrument of Palestine and is inseparable from its people and Trio Joubran has become inseparable from their ouds. So much so, that Samir told us that Wissam (who studied in Italy at the famous Stradivari Institute) made all three of their instruments and they feel as if there are six brothers onstage not just three. The audience connected immediately with the brothers, who play mostly with their eyes either closed or on one another, and their music. You know an audience is really listening when the only sounds you hear is the cash register at the bar. During several of the 8 numbers they performed during their two half hour long sets there was complete silence. Most of their tunes are instrumental, but Samir did do vocals on two and often members of the audience were singing right along with him. Most of the music they played was from their album entitled "Randana", including the numbers "Shagaf" and "Safar". Two of the numbers were so new that Samir said that they were untitled and if anyone in the audience had suggestions for names to meet him after the show. The whole evening was perfect except for one flaw – what I always cringe and hope does not happen at a concert in this city happened. A tall bonehead in the back of the room yelled out towards the end of the show "It would be nice if you said it in French". Oh, the shame! Like language should be important at this moment. These are three brothers of the millions of Palestinians who have had their country, land, etc. taken from them. Many Palestinians have had to flee to other countries (like Canada) just to survive, so I think the language they speak to us in is of little significance. I just hope that this is not what Trio Joubran remembers of their show in Montreal.