Rouba3i (ruba’i) - the arabic word for quartet - was created in 2002 when three of the pioneering voices of free improvisation in Beirut, Mazen Kerbaj (trumpet ) and Sharif Sehnaoui (guitar) and
Christine Sehnaoui ( saxophone), invited french percussionist Le Quân Ninh to join them for a quartet (rouba3i1). the group works as a trio with a guest percussionist each time.
The 5th version with norwegian drummer Ingar Zach is the first one to be recorded. For the moment, they have been around twenty Rouba3i : with Lê Quan Ninh, Ingar Zach, Christian Wolfarth, Fabrizio Spera, Michael Zerang, Jason Khan, Tatsuya Nakatami, Olivier Brisson, Andrew Drury, paul Neidhart, Lise Lotte Norelius, Charles Hayward, Margriet Rieben,Sven- Ake Johansson, Ricardo Arias, Jason Kahn, Tatsuya Nakatani, Edward Perraud, Sebastien Bouhana...
Mazen Kerbaj :
Mazen Kerbaj was born in 1975 in Beirut and lived there since. His main activities are comics, painting and music. After a lot of works for different publishers and magazines, it is in March 2000 that he releases some of his more personal works in his Journal 1999 (a dairy in comics' format). He self-published eight other books and many short stories since.
It is also in 2000 that he plays for the first time in concert, in the Strike's pub in Beirut. This concert, a duo with Lebanese sax player Christine
Sehnaoui, is probably the first improvised music concert in the Middle East.
In 2001, together with guitarist Sharif Sehnaoui , he creates the MILL association that curates since IRTIJAL an annual international festival for free music in Beirut as well as various concerts and events (IRTIJAL saw over the years some great improvisers like Fred Van Hove, Johannes Bauer, Lê Quan Ninh, Franz Hautzinger...).
In august 2002, together with Sharif Sehnaoui and double bass player Raed Yassine he recorded the album A published by La CD-Thèque, Beirut.
After meeting Franz Hautzinger by chance in Lebanon in February 2003, they played in duo in Beirut and in Paris and in trio with Japanese laptop player Taku Unami at the IRTIJAL 2003 festival. Then they were joined by Sharif Sehnaoui and Helge Hinteregger to form Oriental Space quartet that played in Nickelsdorf, Berlin, Vienna and Klagenfurt. A recording of this group is avilable on the Austrian label aRtonal, and Abu Tarek, a recording of the duo Hautzinger/Kerbaj is available on the Portugese label Creative Sources.
In 2005, Kerbaj releases 2 new albums on the Lebanese newly born label Al Maslakh (The Slaughterhouse), one in solo and the other with Rouba3i quartet.
Between 2000 and 2006, Mazen Kerbaj played in solo and various groups in a lot of venues in Lebanon, Syria, France, Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain,
Portugal, Switzerland, UK, and the USA.
Regular and occasional partners includes: Sharif Sehnaoui , Christine Sehnaoui, Raed Yassine, Charbel Haber, Jad Balaben, Jassem Hindi, Franz Hautzinger , Helge Hinteregger, Lê Quan Ninh, Bertrand Denzler, Stéphane Rives, Edward Perraud, Taku Unami, Guillermo Gregorio, Gene Coleman, Toshimaru Nakamura, Michael Zerang, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Jim Baker, Jack Wright, Mike Bullok, Vic Rawlings, David Stackenas, Martin Küchen, Axel Dörner, Tatsuya Nakatani, Ricardo Arias, Jason Khan.
Sharif Sehnaoui :
Born in 1976 in Beyrouth (Lebanon). Starts with piano when still really young, and around 10 or 12 turns towards more rock instruments, guitar and drums. He arrives in Paris in 1996 and learned to play jazz and then discovers improvisation. In 1999, he decided to devote himself fully to free improvisation. Because he was following philosophy studies at that time, he is strongly attracted by the mean of time in free improvisation, time as an instant and also as an essential factor in social and human behavior. He is a member of Ivraie, improvisation orchestra based at Instants Chavirés, and of Topophonie, an association which organises outside performance in public spaces. He works with Stéphane Rives, Christine Sehnaoui, Mazen Kerbaj, Thierry Madiot, Franz Hautzinger or Le Quan Ninh.