At very short notice, I find myself in Beirut, Lebanon to do research for “Visiting Tarab”, a project curated by Tarek Atoui with concerts in November in NYC at the Performa Festival and next March in Sharjah, UAE. It’s my first time to Lebanon, and my first time to the Middle East since doing a project with musicians in Cairo way back in 1999. Beirut is beautiful, a strange mixture of extremely relaxed and tense: definitely worth seeing…and my hosts here, Tarek, Kamal Kassar, and the Irtijal association led by Sharif Sehnaoui, are a joy to spend time with. Aside from listening to tarab music at Kamal’s extensive archive, I played a most enjoyable concert the day before yesterday with Tarek and Sherif, 6 other great improvisors from Lebanon (Mazen Kerbaj, Charbel Haber, Tony Elieh, Cynthia Zaven, Raed Yassin, and Omar Dewachi – actually from Iraq), Uriel Barthélémi from France, and Lichens and DJ Spooky from NYC. Tonight, a trio with Elliott Sharp and Tarek at the Freikeh Silk Factory!