August 13, 2012

Lionel Loueke - Behind the Scenes of HERITAGE

A look behind the scene's of Lionel Loueke's new album HERITAGE, out on Blue Note Records August 28, 2012

"In the spring of 2001, the Beninese guitarist Lionel Loueke flew to Los Angeles to audition for the elite tuition-free jazz graduate program at the Thelonious Monk Institute. Loueke was 27 and had lived in the U.S. for just two years. He hadn’t heard a Miles Davis record until after he turned 20. There were about a dozen finalists, and Loueke was the next-to-last to perform. Across from him sat a panel that included Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Terence Blanchard—three of the most famous jazz musicians alive. They asked Loueke to play “Footprints,” one of Shorter’s own tunes. Loueke swallowed hard, threaded a piece of paper between the strings of his guitar to mimic the sound of a percussive thumb piano called a kalimba, and began an introduction that fused traditional African sounds with post-bop jazz. “I remember saying to myself, ‘This guy is crazy or brilliant,’ ” Blanchard told JazzTimes years later. When Loueke finished, the judges broke into applause. Shorter hopped up and exclaimed, “I told you I’m from Africa, and this is my brother!” Hancock half-joked that Loueke should skip out on school and hit the road with him"

Here's a link to another great article and interview with Lionel.

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