The Artistry of… Lionel Loueke

The depth and richness of dimensions Lionel Loueke brings to his music is like that of an extravagantly coloured and expertly woven textile. It’s a tapestry of artistry that speaks of cultures of birthplace, home, and adopted home in America.

He is originally from the small West African nation of Benin. It was there that he was first exposed to jazz. He first played percussion and sang, and did not play guitar until he was 17. Music education took him across the globe, including attending Ivory Coast’s National Institute of Art, the American School of Modern Music in Paris, and Berklee in Boston on scholarship. This was followed by acceptance at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, now the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz.

Hancock is his mentor and describes Loueke as a musical painter. JazzTimes goes on to add, “His ear-friendly melodicism draws both from traditional African sources and a lifetime of closely studying the likes of Jim Hall and George Benson … rhythmic shifts come quickly and packed with surprises.”

Loueke’s music seamlessly merges jazz and its uniquely blended native cultures — a stunning weave of artistry.

The Artistry of… is a weekly series that reflects on the passion and essence of an artist. It airs Wednesday evenings on Dinner Jazz with John Devenish.