Lionel Loueke - Songs Of My Fathers

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Benin-born New York-based guitarist Lionel Loueke has always stood out from the crowd, both visually and sonically.

Back with stunning new album Heritage, he digs deep into the spirit of his ancestral past and Headhunters-style funk, and tells Stephen Graham his musical journey has always been about following his instincts

Talk about making a statement. When Lionel Loueke first played in the UK he was a complete unknown. But no one who saw him would forget the impact he first made. The scene: the stage of the Town Hall on a spring night in Cheltenham during the 2005 jazz festival, then celebrating its tenth birthday with a special programme in the grand old Gloucestershire spa town. Loueke was on stage in front of an expectant audience as a member of the Herbie Hancock band, in town for the first time.

It wasn’t just that Loueke, from Benin in west Africa, long since a resident of the US via Ivory Coast and then Paris, was new. It was one of his guitars, a beautiful looking transparent Yamaha model that you rarely see. He’d got it after moving to New York, and with the lighting on stage easily picking out the internal parts of the beautiful instrument it was an image that stuck on the brain. But who was this guy?

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