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Lionel Loueke


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Originally from the small West African nation of Benin, guitarist Lionel Loueke has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the past several years. In 2008 and 2009, he was picked as top Rising Star guitarist in Down Beat magazine’s annual Critics Poll. His sophomore release for Blue Note, Mwaliko, follows up 2007’s acclaimed Karibu with a series of searching, innovative, intimate duets with Angelique Kidjo, Esperanza Spalding, Richard Bona and Marcus Gilmore. Loueke also includes three new tracks featuring his longtime trio with Massimo Biolcati on bass and Ferenc Nemeth on drums.

Praised by his mentor Herbie Hancock as “a musical painter,” Loueke combines harmonic sophistication, soaring melody, a deep knowledge of African music, and conventional and extended guitar techniques to create a warm and evocative sound of his own. JazzTimes wrote “Loueke’s lines are smartly formed and deftly executed. His ear-friendly melodicism draws both from traditional African sources and a lifetime of closely studying the likes of Jim Hall and George Benson, and his rhythmic shifts come quickly and packed with surprises.”

Karibu, featuring the trio with Hancock and Wayne Shorter as special guests, won widespread critical praise. TIME called the album “a jamboree of sprung rhythms, splashed with African and Brazilian flavors, in which Loueke scat-sings, drums on his guitar, mouth-clicks and plays some wicked jazz.” The New York Times declared Loueke “a startlingly original voice… a spellbinding presence…one of the most striking jazz artists to emerge is some time.”


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  • kmullin

    he was crazy with Herbie

    31 Dec 2013 Reply
  • handsofprose

    Such a great track. fast becoming a firm favourite of mine...

    15 Oct 2013 Reply
  • strangeloop

    Whoah, thanks for recommending this! Another beautiful find.

    30 May 2013 Reply
  • ppareja

    Just went to a Loueke's concert yesterday night in Granada (Spain) and I must say I'm really impressed by the quality of this musician

    10 Mar 2011 Reply
  • Forteelement

    Your music traveled (by the NPR tiny desk concert) to Montreal this evening. It's great to listen to music as good as yours!

    29 Aug 2010 Reply
  • Saturnlane

    20 Apr 2010 Reply
  • berncentral

    Sehr hörens- und sehenswert. Lionel Loueke, Massimo Biolcati und Ferenc Nemeth sind ein fantastisches Trio. Mit Spielwitz geht der Sound unter die Haut. Lionel Loueke ist ein begnadeter Gitarrist und hat seine Zukunft noch vor sich - auch ohne Herbie !

    3 Oct 2009 Reply
  • wojteks27

    I went on Herbie's concert in Poland, Katowice, and as well as in Barcelona his solo was just amazing. I don't know if in Barcelona it looked the same, but in Katowice Hancock kept on joking that Seventeens were a musical lesson for the crowd and while playing he was counting:) Btw. great composition!

    13 Jul 2009 Reply
  • colmenares

    saw him with Herbie as well, but in Barcelona's jazz festival. Lionel blew everyone away with his solo... and seven teens sounded amazing! had to go get the album just for that one but the album version doesn't touch the live one with Kendrick Scott's drumming added to the mix. interesting jazz artist to say the least!

    30 Dec 2008 Reply
  • benmiguras

    yep yep to the two comments below saw him in Birmingham Did they play 17's? want to find a version of that was mental but the rolling bassline is still in my head

    23 Nov 2008 Reply
  • credibilitydryv

    Fantastic with Herbie Hancock on Friday night at Gateshead. Amazing.

    15 Nov 2008 Reply
  • freezegelman

    amazing guitarist, and great vocals. saw him with herbie hancock in 2008. sooo badass

    13 Nov 2008 Reply
  • cmorrs

    Lionel Loueke's great... I have Gilfema's CD and his first ever appearance with Dom Moio (Afrizona).... both are awesome.

    25 Feb 2008 Reply
  • lurkinmerkin

    Lionel is like an orgasm for my ears.

    21 Jan 2008 Reply
  • Slavephan

    Lionel is a friend I met in 2004. He has played with some of the best guitarists in the world and is just not being exposed to the jazz audience while on tour with Herbie Hancock. His first album, In a Trance, gives many good examples of his talented playing. My friend Sarah produced the album - if you have any Lionel questions, feel free to ask me!

    11 Sep 2007 Reply

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