Lionel Loueke Trio


A native of Benin, Loueke came to the U.S. in 1999, at the age of 26, and swiftly blew away a big band’s worth of jazz luminaries—Herbie, Wayne, Terence Blanchard, Charlie Haden (who’s always had a sharp eye for killer imports)—all of whom enlisted the guitarist for touring and recording. A minute’s listen and you’ll know why: Loueke has that feeling, that unteachable quality, in his lines, his phrasing. This is music designed to express, not impress; he couldn’t play a cliché, or a dishonest note, if he wanted to. This “jazz” knows no borders, with a samba-like ease, an Afro-pop hop, a downtown harmonic openness. Loueke’s trio-mates—Hungarian drummer Ferenc Nemeth and Swedish-Italian bassist Massimo Biolcati—bring an extra cross-cultural dimension to the music, creating something beyond category but within every listener’s reach. More props to the Alley for going beyond their standard fare.

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