Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lionel Loueke

In one of Bruce Nauman's 

very famous neon pieces 

the artist writes...

"The true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths."

My dear friend


Global Around Town Senior Music Correspondent

Don Yaffe

succeeds with this every time he picks up his guitar.

Occasionally he picks up a pen.

And we are better for it. 

Don attended a Lionel Loueke concert the other night.

Here are his observations:

Lionel Loueke- Dazzle Jazz , Denver October 19th 2012

On tour around the world right now, The Lionel Loueke Trio has been stopping by many of my favorite Jazz clubs and theaters from Santa Cruz, California's Kuumbwa (Lionel must feel right at home with that African name) to Duc Des Lombardes in Paris. A truly Global Around Town citizen, this west African native has been mixing it up lately, leaving his amplified Nylon string guitar at home to favor a high powered electric sound. This may startle some who prefer the warmth and grace of Lionel's recorded output to date, including the new release "Heritage" which features acoustic guitar, Piano, and the sultry air of Gretchen Parlato's Voice.

I caught up with the Trio at Denver's Dazzle Jazz club,  and it was clear the band had visited Rockmount Ranch Wear, as the three were a triptych of untucked, short sleeve, cowboy that you would never expect from a band comprised of two Africans and a kid from New Jersey. The set began with Lionel's voice, or I should say, voices (electronic Harmonizer), and with the lead track from the new album: lfe. (Is that Life with no "i"?)  Vocals take on a new meaning when LL steps forward to the mic, the clicks and air and lip flapping of tribal tongues revolve into a driving rhythm that resonated through the entire evening, soon taken over by Drummer Mark Guiliana, who would take it from a whisper of Lionel, up to the full thrust of an electric power trio, and back again. With Bassist Michael Olatja thundering yet facile on a five string electric bass, I couldn't help but think back to the Jimi Hendrix Experience when Billy Cox took over for Noel Redding 40 years ago. Dropping Africa instead of acid, two trio's couldn't sound more different: no steady backbeat here,
and the lower energy sweetness of Lionel's acoustic work is still evident, and ample, reinterpreted on an electric Guitar. The loping near- Reggae groove of "Freedom Dance"  gave way to a solo more raw and explosive than the studio version on "Heritage"  and instead of a return to the trance-like vocal theme and quick ending, Olatja's bass continues the feel throughout a long solo with peaks and valleys,  before the subtle mallet work of Mark Guiliana take's over,  passing the poly-rhythms and ideas from one side of the tiny drum kit to the other, from sky to floor, like a symphonic score hands voices around the orchestra,  (Yes, folks, this "Drummer" is THAT good) earning a standing ovation from a crowd that also ordered dinner. Not to be missed. Check for tour dates.

Many thanks to my dear friend Don for his sensitive insights.

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