“A” Trio: Music from Lebanon

with Sophisticated Gimmick, opening

This not-to-be-missed performance will feature three of your favorite Lebanese improvising musicians, Mazen Kerbaj, Raed Yassin, and Sharif Sehnaoui. They are known for playing their instruments in all the right wrong ways.

Starting the night off will be the new project Sophisticated Gimmick. In this first session, Nik Francis, percussion/electronics; Jeron White, doublebass; and Samuel Burt, reeds/daxophone will each bring a special sound gimmick. They will be tasked with finding within these sounds as much variation, overlap, and interaction as possible.

“A” Trio

Mazen Kerbaj, trumpet; Raed Yassin, double-bass; Sharif Sehnaoui, acoustic guitar

A” Trio is the oldest Lebanese improvisation group. Formed in 2002 in Beirut during the second Irtijal Festival of Experimental Music, they went on to record the first free jazz CD to be produced in the Arab world (“A”, La CDthèque, 2003). Their music later moved away from its jazz roots towards a more textural approach, relying strongly on prepared & extended techniques for a heavy diversion of their respective instruments. After a decade of working together in trio and various other contexts, Kerbaj, Sehnaoui & Yassin have finally reached a very characteristic sound that has that has been fondly described as “textural swing.” Creative yet simple, acoustic yet powerful, their live performances are very playful and rely on a strong visual component. The “A” Trio has often worked on collaborations with other musicians or groups coming from genres as varied as Lebanese punk rock (Scrambled Eggs), American contemporary folk (Alan Bishop) or British first-generation free improvisers (AMM). Some of these collaborations have been released on albums, while some other, like the 4 hour-long concert where they joined forces with the Australian trio The Necks still wait for a proper release. Other collaborations include Turkish free jazz band KonstruKt.

French poet Patrick Dubost as well as various musicians like Michael Zerang, David Stackenas, Martin Kuchen, Georg Wissel & Tony Buck. Individually, Kerbaj, Sehnaoui and Yassin are three of Lebanon’s most active musicians, organizing the “Irtijal” international festival since 2001 and running two record labels: “Al Maslakh” devoted to “publish the un-publishable” on the Lebanese musical scene. And “Annihaya”, that focuses on sampling, recycling and the displacement of various aspects of popular culture.


Picture by Tony Elieh

Sophisticated Gimmick

Nik Francis is an improvising musician. His music focuses on the drum kit, often incorporating electronics and small acoustic instruments. http://topology.systems

Jeron White bassist; jazz/avante garde scene in the Washington-Baltimore and New York City areas. He leads his own group, Polarity, and is featured on several recordings. Polarity opened for Michael Formanek’s “Ensemble Kolossus” April 2017 at NYU Theater. His discography includes Jamal Moore’s “Organix Trio Ancestral Communion” four-part series, Theljon Allen’s “Prospective,” and Dimitri Nassar’s “Crescent Piano” in 2020. https://soundcloud.app.goo.gl/s9Fxf

Samuel Burt is a composer and improvisor in Baltimore, Maryland. His music focuses on processes and concepts that risk failing in order to discover moments of bewilderment. He curates music at the High Zero Festival, the Red Room, and Worlds in Collusion. He plays clarinets, synthesizers, and the daxophone. He teaches music composition at Towson and Johns Hopkins Universities. https://daxophonesam.bandcamp.com/ https://samuelburt.com/

Nik Francis is an improvising musician. His music focuses on the drum kit, often incorporating electronics and small acoustic instruments. http://topology.systems


Event location:

Red Room at Normals Books and Records 425 E 31st St, Baltimore, MD 21218

The Red Room is a volunteer-run space in Baltimore dedicated to mind-expanding experimental culture, headquartered at Normals Books and Records.