Saturday, April 27, 2013

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
From Benin to Berklee and beyond with
guitarist and singer Lionel Loueke

Thie week, let's peruse some video clips from guitarist and singer Lionel Loueke, who's coming to St. Louis to play Wednesday, May 8 through Saturday, May 11 at Jazz at the Bistro.

Born in the west African nation of Benin, Loueke studied starting in 1990 at the National Institute of Art in Ivory Coast and from 1994 to 1998 at the American School of Modern Music in Paris. He came to the USA in 1999 after winning a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, from which he graduated in the year 2000.

Loueke subsequently has worked a sideman with a host of well-known jazz musicians and singers, performing and/or recording with Terence Blanchard, Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves, Cassandra Wilson, Wayne Shorter, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Charlie Haden, Marcus Miller, Sting, Brian Blade, John Patitucci, Terri Lyne Carrington, Kenny Garrett, Roy Hargrove, Santana, Dennis Chambers, Gretchen Parlato and many others.

One of Loueke's most notable associations has been with Herbie Hancock, with whom he recorded on the albums Possibilities (2006) and River: The Joni Letters (2007). Loueke's only previous St. Louis appearance also was with Hancock, as he played on the keyboardist's Headhunters 2005 tour that began right here at The Pageant.

As a bandleader, Loueke has released two albums with the trio Gilfema, with Massimo Biolcati on bass and Ferenc Nemeth on drums, and five under his own name, the most recent being 2012's Heritage on the Blue Note label. His distinctive blend of jazz and west African styles has earned Loueke a lot of attention from fans and the media in recent years, including wins in the "Rising Star - Guitar" category in the 2008 and 2009 DownBeat reader's poll.

For his gig at the Bistro, Loueke will play with a trio, and today's selection of clips includes a nice long look at his work in that format. First, though, comes a pair of videos, up top and the first one down below, in which Loueke is introduced and interviewed, talks about his background and guitar and vocal techniques, and, in part two, performs "Madjigua."

Below that, you can see a complete 90-minute show Loueke played with the Gilfema trio in December, 2010 at the Library of Congress' Atlas Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC. The fourth clip showcases a different trio, with some extended jamming on "Freedom Dance" by Loueke, drummer Mark Guiliana and bassist Michael Olatuja recorded in October 2012 in Denver.

The fifth clip shows Loueke playing solo in an appearance recorded in November 2012 at TSFJazz in Paris. And today's sixth and final video shows Loueke playing his composition "Tribal Dance" last September in London with keyboardist Robert Glasper, who produced the Heritage album.

For more about Lionel Loueke, see this 2009 interview with; his page at NPR music; this interview from October 2012 published on Blue Note's site; and this interview published just last month on

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