Born and raised in Beirut, Tarek is an American-Lebanese New York based award winning composer and a self-taught jazz pianist who got exposed to jazz around the age of 19.
Since the release of his debut "Ashur" in 2012, Tarek has been dedicated to exploring relationships between African-American Jazz and Arabic rhythms/maqams which are most evident in his second album "Lisan Al Tarab: Jazz Conceptions in Classical Arabic".
In 2016, Tarek was commissioned by the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) to write new work based on the rhythms of the Arabian Gulf. The new work entitled "Peninsular" was released in March 2017 and had it's world premiere at the Abu Dhabi Festival '17.
On April 30th 2012, Tarek was invited to be among the 32 musicians from 13 countries to perform in the inaugural of the "International Jazz Day" held at the UN headquarters in New York - along with Wayne Shorter, Richard Bona, Zakir Hussein & Vinnie Colaiuta- a celebration announced by UNESCO and Herbie Hancock to proclaim jazz as an international language. On the same day in 2017, Tarek was invited again for the 6th edition of the International Jazz Day which took place in Havana, Cuba at the historic Gran Teatro de la Habana theater and where he performed with Youn Sun Nah, Regina Carter, Esperanza Spalding and Antonio Sanchez.
Tarek has performed in prestigious venues such as the Smithsonian Institute (Washington, DC), MuCEM museum (Marseille), the United Nations Assembly Hall (NYC), Gran Teatro de la Habana (Cuba), New York University (Abu Dhabi Festival), Dar Al Athar Al Islamiyyah (Kuwait), the Blue Whale (Los Angeles), the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandria), and the Ennejma Ezzahra (Tunis) to name just a few. Since moving to NYC in 2011, Tarek has played as a leader or sideman, in New York's renowned jazz clubs such as the Lenox Lounge, Iridium, Smoke, Smalls, Cornelia Street Cafe, Bill’s Place, The Stone, Cleopatra's Needle, Le Poisson Rouge, Shapeshifter Lab, Nublu, Somethin Jazz Club & 55 Bar.
In April 2013, Tarek founded, organized & produced a cutting-edge performance called “Beirut Speaks Jazz” which aims to promote jazz in Lebanon by igniting adventurous collaborations between artists from the worlds of rock, pop, tarab, rap and blues over the foundations of jazz. So far the event has been an incredible success gathering 36 musicians on one stage and in different combinations. Among the invited artists were Hamed Sinno (Mashrou’ Leila), Oumeima El Khalil, Erin Mikaelian (Pindoll), Tania Saleh, Poly, Aziza, Mazen El Sayed (El Rass), Chady Nashef, Wassim Bou Malham (Who Killed Bruce Lee), Elie Afif, Makram Abol Hosn and many more.
Tarek is the recipient of many awards such as the Givanas Foundation grant, the Huygens scholarship, the Andrea Elkenbracht award, the Prins Bernhard Culture fund, the Thelonious Monk Composers Competition prize, the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead residency, the New Dutch composition contest, and the Composer's Platform Commission by the Abu Dhabi Festival.
Apart from music, Tarek has co-written, with Darine Hotait, a feature film entitled “Decoding Bach” which was selected by the New York Foundation for the Arts for their fiscal sponsorship program.
He recently scored the music of "I SAY DUST", a film by Darine Hotait which screened in 70+ festivals around the world and was shown on BBC, Sundance TV and AMC Network.
Tarek has recently self-published an eBook about practicing rhythm entitled "Duple vs Triple: A Melodic Approach to Mastering Polyrhythms in Jazz and other Groove-Based Music in 56 Steps" and is about the publish a new book entitled "The Percussion Ensemble of the Arabian Peninsula".
Highlights / Awards (chronological list):
- September 2016 / Commissioned by the Abu Dhabi Festival to compose "Peninsular: Portraits in Khaliji Rhythms and Jazz"
- November 2014 / Delivered a public talk during Middle East's largest creative conference Nuqat.
- February 2014 / Received the Mawred grant to fund his second album as a leader entitled "Lisan Al Tarab: Jazz Conceptions in Classical Arabic".
- January 2014 / Tarek’s concert in Dubai was nominated as Best Gig for the Time Out Dubai 2014 Music and Nightlife Awards.
- November 2013 / Tarek served as a music juror for the 2013 grant cycle of the leading Arab Fund for Arts & Culture (AFAC).
- April 2013 / Tarek founded, organized and produced “Beirut Speaks Jazz”, a distinctive initiative which aims to bring jazz closer to the Lebanese audience in a unique approach.
- September 2012 / Tarek’s ASHUR Promotion Video (directed by Darine Hotait) was an Emmy Awards finalist in Los Angeles.
- April 2012 / Invited to perform at the historic inaugural of the International Jazz Day, held at the United Nations Assembly Hall in New York City on April 30.
- October 2010 / Awarded first prize of the prestigious “Thelonious Monk Jazz Composers Competition” sponsored by BMI, for his composition Sama'i Yamani (feat. Rasha Rizk).
- July 2010 / Selected to perform in the semi-finals of the “Montreux Jazz Piano Solo Competition”, in Switzerland.
- June 2010 / Received the prestigious Prins Bernhard Cultural Foundation Grant in the Netherlands.
- February 2010 / Selected to participate in “Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead 2011” residency in the Kennedy Center, Washington DC.
- May 2009 / Received BA in Jazz Piano from the Prins Claus Conservatorium with 10 (highest possible distinction granted in the Netherlands).
- May 2009 / Tarek’s composition “Theme & Variation” won the New Dutch Contest & was recorded by the West Coast Big Band in Amsterdam.
- September 2009 / Received the Andrea Elkenbracht Fonds award from the municipality of Groningen, the Netherlands.
- January 2007 / Received the prestigious Huygens Scholarship, from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture & Science.
- November 2005 / Received the Givanas Charitable Foundation grant from the Givanas group.
- June 2001 / Received BS in Computer Science from the American University of Beirut.
- eBook of 56 exercises for rhythm: "Duple vs Triple: A Melodic Approach to Mastering Polyrhythms in Jazz and other Groove-Based Music in 56 Steps."
- The Percussion Ensemble of the Arabian Peninsula: 36 descriptions and transcriptions of rhythms from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain (co-authored with Rony Afif)