Loueke was born in Benin, studied music in the Ivory Coast as a teenager, did further jazz-specific training in Paris for five years and finally ended up with a Berklee scholarship. In Boston, he met his trio: Swedish bassist Massimo Biolcati, who has an Italian name, and drummer Ferenc Nemeth, who grew up in a small town in Hungary. On Mwaliko, he also collaborates with Angelique Kidjo — also from Benin — and the Congolese-born Richard Bona. Loueke uses his jazz skills, forged in the crucibles of conservatories, to revisit songs and ideas he learned back in Cotonou. Obversely, some of the unique techniques he practices — even on the album’s unabashedly “jazz” tunes — were inspired by sounds he remembers from his childhood.
Check out this video of a live performance with Herbie Hancock