Lionel Loueke. i

Lionel Loueke. Brantley Gutierrez/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Brantley Gutierrez/Courtesy of the artist
Lionel Loueke.

Lionel Loueke.

Brantley Gutierrez/Courtesy of the artist

JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater

Lionel Loueke Trio On JazzSetWBGO

Listen

Listen

Loading…

58:01
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/170748100/170639425" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">

Lionel Loueke was born in Benin, West Africa, in 1973. As a youngster, he sang and played percussion, but didn't really take up the guitar until the age of 17. Loueke was so gifted on the instrument that he was sent to study music at the Ivory Coast's Institute of Art. He continued on to the American School of Modern Music in Paris, where he turned heads, and in 1999 came to America on scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Loueke was also accepted into the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute for Jazz Performance. There, he studied with jazz movers and shakers Terence Blanchard and Herbie Hancock, and began crafting his own artistic vision.

"I have two heritages: One is from my ancestors in Africa, and that goes through my music, my body, my soul," Loueke says. "But I also have a heritage from the West, from Europe and the U.S. I've been blessed by all different parts of the world, and my songs reflect that."

Loueke often opens his songs with his voice expanded in harmony, as he plays a single line on his guitar and then fans out from that. Everything is part of a curve. The music grows, as the band revels in itself and then slims back down. No hurry.

The New York Times writer Jon Pareles called Lionel Loueke "the gentle virtuoso" for the engaging way Loueke melds African guitar traditions with jazz harmony. Loueke gets African-style rhythms going, tapping on his guitar and using his effects pedals. He sings and harmonizes with his own voice. With players who are also his dear friends — bassist Michael Olatuja and drummer Mark Guiliana — the Lionel Loueke Trio explores music from Heritage, produced by labelmate Robert Glasper.

Set List
  • "Ife"
  • "Hope"
  • "Farafina"
  • "Bayyinah" (Glasper)
Personnel
  • Lionel Loueke, guitar and vocals
  • Michael Olatuja, bass
  • Mark Guiliana, drums
Credits

Recording by Greg Hartman of the Kennedy Center, Surround Sound mix by Duke Markos.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Jazz

Dwike Mitchell (left), pictured with longtime collaborator Willie Ruff. Vincent Oneppo/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Vincent Oneppo/Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Dwike Mitchell On Piano Jazz

The pianist joins Marian McPartland to perform "Lush Life" and "Don't Worry 'Bout Me."

Listen Loading… 57:53
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/419545096/419554645" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">

Jimmy Greene. Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist

Jazz Night In America: The Radio Program

Jimmy Greene Remembers A 'Beautiful Life'

The saxophonist's latest album honors his 6-year-old daughter, killed in the 2012 Newtown shooting.

Listen Loading… 57:25
  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/418925379/418929187" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
Back To Top