Revelation The Khoury Project Enja records
The Sydney-based, Egyptian-descended Tawadros brothers, Joseph and James, have taken oud and percussion-driven Middle Eastern-derived compositions into jazz realms in recent years. Palestinian-born, Jordan-raised and for the past nine years Paris-based siblings Elia, Basil and Osama Khoury have utilised the Arabic lute — albeit one of Turkish rather than Egyptian origin — as well as qanoun (zither) and violin in a not dissimilar capacity. Like their Aussie counterparts, the Khourys manage to break free of the stylistic shackles in which musicians of their background often find themselves while banishing the insipid cliches associated with the genre nebulously dubbed world music fusion. But, while Revelation might be a better-than-average meeting of minds and modes, one in which Middle Eastern and Mediterranean music, maqam and MajorPhrygian scales merge with jazz chops and improv, there’s a tad too much meandering and insufficient melody for the Khourys’ latest release to be favourably compared with any of the Tawadros brothers’ ARIA-garnering albums. Tracks imbued with rhythmic charge from the projects’ percussionists — Cuban-flavoured from Inor Sotolongo; orientally oriented from Youssef Hbeisch — and French jazzman’s Guillaume Robert’s upright bass provide the set highlights. The percussionists push violinist Basil Khoury to Jean-Luc Ponty-like flights of fancy in a 13minute-plus cornerstone piece, A Walk in the Old City, and accompany meaningful exchanges between Osama K’s qanoun and Elia K’s oud before soloing themselves. Zither plays the part of flamenco guitar in a riveting 10-minute-plus rendition of Paco de Lucia’s Zyryab, the sole cover. The stringed instruments in Gypsy Trance cast a spell that’s reminiscent of the great Roma band Taraf de Haidouks.
THE KHOURYS BREAK FREE OF STYLISTIC SHACKLES