Thu 25 Nov 2010

The electrifying Cameroonian bassist and singer Richard Bona is coming to Australia with his band for the very first time. This is destined to be a wonderful, genre-bending tour that takes in Sydney and Melbourne before finishing up at the famous Adelaide International Guitar Festival which is curated by Slava Grigoryan.

Richard’s band for his first Australian outing includes a handful of fine contemporary musicians – Etienne Declin Stadwijk on keyboards, Lee Tatum Greenblatt on trumpet, Jean Christophe Marie Maillard on guitar, and Ernesto Siverio Simpson on drums.

“On July 07, Richard was honoured by the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal with the Antonio Carlos Jobim award. Bona is the 7th recipient of the Award, created for the Festivals 25th anniversary to honour artists distinguished in the field of world music whose influence on the evolution of jazz and crossover is widely recognized. Armed with his bass, Richard Bona won swift entry to the most prestigious of music circles: Salif Keita, Harry Belafonte, Mike Stern, Pat Metheny, Bobby McFerrin and Wynton Marsalis…As winner of the Antonio Carlos Jobim Award Bona follows in the footsteps of Toots & the Maytals, Gilberto Gill, Angelique Kidjo, Salif Keita, Khaled and Ibrahim Ferrer.”

Richard Bona’s new album Ten Shades of Blues will be released in Australia to coincide with the tour, and it’s an album that embodies Richard’s multi-cultural approach as he says: “I like each of my albums to have a theme… this time I chose the blues. You can find it in Africa, in America and in India. People put a style to it, a style with guitar and vocals. But I see it first as a scale, one that’s present in different traditions and expressions in music.”

For the uninitiated, Bona has been recognised as one of the planet’s musical revelations of the past decade. A complete artist, an absolute master of his art, and a melodist of rare elegance and sensuality, he’s a poignant singer and a member of that exclusive club, “the world’s best bassists.” With six albums under his belt, including his latest release, Bona is also known as one of the greatest multi-instruments of the last 20 years with a significant and unusual balance of skills.

His unique style is situated at the crossroads of a horde of influences - jazz, bossa nova, pop music, afro-beat, traditional song, and funk. Bona’s fans around the world have their own moniker derived from his unique style, referring to him as “The African Sting”. In Bona’s music there is a swarming mass of identities from both the ancestral and ultra-contemporary Africa to Brazil’s harmonies and the energy of rap; or from Caribbean grooves to Anglo-Saxon pop. Throughout his musical journey Bona has absorbed the spirit and the rhythms of the places he has visited.

The list of musicians who have played with Bona looks like the roster from the musicians’ hall of fame. Bona has performed with Harry Belafonte, Michael and Randy Brecker, Paul Simon, Chaka Khan, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Chucho Valdès, Mike Stern, Larry Coryell, Steve Gadd, Joni Mitchell, Harry Connick Jr, Herbie Hancock, Billy Cobham, Queen Latifah, Jacky Terrasson, Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul, Pat Metheny and George Benson.

Bona honed his musical skills growing up in Cameroon, the West African country of his birth. After arriving in New York in 1995, he has released eight albums as a leader, playing every instrument in sight and adding his distinctive songwriting to the mix. His first three albums – Scenes from My Life, Reverence and Munia – allowed listeners to discover a wonderful storyteller, whose spellbinding vocals smoothly wrapped around his unique musical arrangements.

Don’t miss this opportuntity to see a rare musical talent in full flight: Richard Bona is a wonderful bass player, guitarist, percussionist and singer. When he leads his own group his voice and guitar are showcased every bit as much as his bass – and the result is pure magic.

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