Joseph Tawadros’ personality is as unfettered as his music. His virtuosic oud playing was accompanied by irreverent humour as he and brother James Tawadros (percussion)
opened their concert at the Chevron Festival Gardens in relaxed style, one foot resting on a knee to cradle their instruments.
The siblings are one half of Band of Brothers and Joseph Tawadros’ composition Forbidden Fruit introduced the complexity of their Arabic instruments. Joseph used the bass strings on the oud as a pedal note while his complex pick work created a decorative pentatonic melody line. James’ tambourine-like riq produced sounds ranging from the depth of a bongo drum to the snap of a snare rimshot.
The Band of Brothers line-up was completed by the addition of the Grigoryan brothers Slava and Leonard. Their fretted guitars added a clean purity to the wailing fierceness of the oud and the hypnotic pattering of the riq.
In Ten Ten Slava Grigoryan doubled the oud bass line while Leonard picked out a solo that was spacious, sweet and touched with jazz voicings. The banjo-inspired Bluegrass and Nikriz moved in a different direction again with Slava laying down a funk bass line under a breakneck oud solo with a time signature which seemingly changed every few bars.
The Grigoryan brothers were the more reticent half of the quartet, preferring to let their fingers do the talking. As a duo they produced a sparkling sound in Fantasy on a Theme by William Lawes while Leonard’s composition This Time was immaculately synchronised.
Band of Brothers Blackbird
The band regrouped for the final few songs and Joseph explained with typical humour why they chose to do a cover of the Beatle’s Blackbird: “The Grigoryan brothers are Russian so we had to play something by Lennon”. Strangely it was an apt summary of this concert which free-wheeled joyfully and irreverently across multiple cultures and musical boundaries.
This review copyright The West Australian newspaper 2016