Album Title: The hour of separation. Performer: Joseph Tawadros (oud) Label: Enja Records Playing time: 77'58" Recorded: Avatar Studios, New-York USA - 2010.
Australian born but living in Cairo since 1983, Joseph Tawadros is a virtuoso on the oud, a pear-shaped stringed instrument commonly used in North African and Middle Eastern music. The modern oud and European lute both descended from a common ancestor via diverging paths. The oud is readily distinguished by its lack of frets and smaller neck. For his seventh album released in 2010 on Enja and recorded in New York, he is accompanied by famous American sidemen John Abercrombie on guitar, John Patitucci on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums whilst his younger brother James Tawadros sits in on percussion.
This disc highlights Tawadros' talents as both composer and performer to make him a worthy heir of Rabih Abou-Khalil and Anouar Brahem halfway between jazz and oriental music. The Hour of Separation is an outstanding mix of North-African melodies and rhythms with the diversity of sounds and moods from three of the world’s great jazz musicians.
This incredible lineup thus delivers an amazing depth of emotion, energy and virtuosity.
It is quite difficult actually to classify this music. I think it's easiest called a mix of world music and jazz fusion. In some ways a parallel could be drawn between the Indian Shakti experience of the McLaughlin/Shankar duet and the Egyptian experience of Joseph Tawadros. Having previously played with local jazz musicians, Tawadros knew that his compositions would welcome the creativity of improvisers coming from backgrounds other than his own Arabian milieu. Then his inspiration and personal recognition on the international scene allowed him to approach just the right people who'd respond not just with virtuosity but empathy and energy.
The sound quality doesn't call up any criticism and the warm sonic signature of the ethnic lead instrument provides for a very natural and involving atmosphere. Patitucci's double bass is particularly intense and expressive. He obviously took great pleasure during this collaboration with Tawadros and his personal involvement reminded me of the Chick Corea Akoustic Band's vigour and virtuosity.
Abercrombie and Dejohnette too were completely committed to this musical project. They play hard-changing, fast and subtle. All along these 15 tracks Tawadros and his band deliver pure ongoing enjoyment. I would give special recognition for the brother percussionist who interacted very intelligently with the band despite his young age and an overall Blue Moon award for sheer originality and compositional excellence.