Permission To Evaporate
In his erudite liner notes Joseph Tawadros observes the oud is neither “ethnic” nor “Arabic”. Amen. An instrument is like a painter’s brush, and the limits are of the heart and imagination, not of prescribed traditions and techniques.
Herein lies the wonder of Tawadros’s 11th album: using that same brush he has created not just new pictures, but new colours in which to paint them. On Bluegrass Nikriz and Dreaming Hermit, for instance, the oud’s usual brooding mellowness is supplanted by a banjo-like twang. His compositional range also continues to expand, without experimentation negating beauty. The prayer-like title track and Last Candle immediately swell the canon of Tawadros’s finest works.
Again he recorded in New York, this time taking pianist Matt McMahon with him as well as his percussionist brother, James. The guests are bassist Christian McBride (another to extend his instrument’s potential) and electric guitarist Mike Stern, whose long, crying notes are sometimes so ephemeral as to seem to be dreamed rather than played. All five musicians’ artistry is luminous, and the recording quality exemplary.