Lionel Loueke Solo “HH”
Herbie Hancock, his mentor (as Lionel Loueke calls him), has defined him as “a musical painter”. Trying to interpret Hancock’s thoughts, he is a musician with a coloristic vision, like a painter who puts sounds instead of colors on an ideal palette of sounds. A native of Benin, Loueke’s academic background took place in Paris and the USA, where he attended Berklee College of Music. Loueke has such a personal style he doesn’t resemble anyone else. Plus, he gives the impression of taking roots in the musical heritage of his native world, although he perfectly understood jazz and improvisation techniques. After taking his first steps in the “major” jazz world with Terence Blanchard, Loueke’s ultimate consecration was with Hancock. The guitarist from Benin has played with Hancock for a long time, both live and in the studio (their projects on Joni Mitchell and John Lennon), and he has never forgotten his mentor’s teachings. Herbie is a leading figure to him, both humanly and artistically: “It was a need for me to play his music”. That is how the tribute was born, and it became s a live event and an album called “HH”, standing for Herbie Hancock. The formula, be it live or in the studio, is a solo performance. The repertoire includes classics of Hancock’s most creative period, from hard-bop and soul hits in the Blue Note style (“Speak Like A Child”, “Cantaloupe Island”, “Dolphin Dance”, “Watermelon Man”) to the electric breakthrough (“Rockit”, “Butterfly”, “Hang Up Your Hang Ups”). This tribute seems to be intimate and non-institutional, but the music is even more spectacular than expected. Loueke’s ability allows him to juggle bass lines, backing, and improvisation, frequently accompanied by a dark and deep voice. He is a sort of one-man orchestra drawing on a popular songbook without fearing inevitable comparisons or looking for special effects.