Thirty year old oud virtuoso and two-time ARIA award winner Joseph Tawadros’ eleventh and latest CD release, Permission to Evaporate, is a credit to him, both as a performer and as a composer. This very impressive CD containing 16 tracks over nearly 80 minutes is dedicated to his mother who passed away in 2012 and his father who followed in 2013.
The talented Tawadros, an Australian of Egyptian descent, composed all the music in the album that is beautifully compiled with pieces ranging from the fast, furious and frenetic, displaying his incredible technique, to the more introspective melancholic pieces that highlight his expression and sensibility. It contains an informative booklet and lovely poetry, including one written by his friend, cartoonist Michael Leunig, that reminds one of his solo album The Prophet (2009) based on Khalil Gibran’s book of the same name. It was self-produced and recorded in New York City.
The oud is a 12-string (top 2 single and bottom 5 double), fretless, half-watermelon shaped wooden instrument from which the lute derived. The former is much less chordal than the latter so has more scope for melodic playing. It is an instrument strongly associated with Arabic music but it’s versatility is shown in this album where different genres meet – jazz, classical, bluegrass, & folk music. Tawadros strives for emotion & meaning in his music rather than just a traditional ethnic connection so it will appeal to a wide range of musical tastes.
Like his earlier album, The Hour of Separation (2010), Tawadros has again collaborated with jazz musicians, this time US bassist and triple Grammy award winner Christian McBride and world-renowned electric guitarist Mike Stern, as well as Australian pianist Matt McMahon who also appeared on his Angel (2008) and Concerto of the Greater Sea (2012) albums. Joseph’s younger brother, James, is the percussionist, as he was on previous albums. He plays the req, a small hand-held tambourine with 5 outer pairs of cymbals, and the bendir, a frame drum, that provide amazing rhythmic variety.
The album can almost be divided into two parts. The first part is upbeat & dance-like while the second & larger part is soulful and mystical, a true homage to his parents and a reflection of the healing nature of his instrument. There is wonderful interplay between all the instruments as they feed off each other to complete a thrilling combined sound. This is particularly noticeable in the very attractive title track where a short melody is developed & cleverly tossed around between the instruments, especially the oud and piano. There are duets & exchanges on most tracks where the different textures of the different instruments seem to blend well together. A true collaboration in every sense of the word!
It should surely bring another ARIA award in the Best World Music Album category for this under-appreciated musician. Highly recommended!!