Home Read Now Hear This: Lionel Loueke | HH

Now Hear This: Lionel Loueke | HH

I'm getting caught up on the good albums that have come out lately. Like this one.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:HH is a pivotal album in guitarist Lionel Loueke’s already-fascinating journey from humble roots to international stardom. Over the last two decades, he has worked tirelessly as a sideman and guitarist for hire. This is his opportunity to stand at the forefront and shine on his own very special project.

Performing music from his mentor and legendary musician Herbie Hancock, this album is hugely personal for Loueke. It was in 2001 that Herbie, along with Terence Blanchard and Wayne Shorter, selected Lionel for a place at the famed Monk Institute as well as, later in 2005, asking him to join the band. Reworking Herbie’s best-known compositions (including Cantaloupe Island, Watermelon Man and Rock It) as well as lesser-known works, Loueke has stamped his personal sound and individual genius, and deep knowledge accrued at first hand whilst being on the road with Herbie on this great body of work.

This album is as much a dedication as a personal tribute to a musician that has changed the face of this music. It’s a hugely compelling and uniquely individual take on music that has been hugely influential to musicians of all styles and genres. You’ll not hear versions of these great songs so original and beautiful, immersed in the primary inspiration of the composer. Unique is a word that is overused when describing artists, but Loueke’s personal journey and artistic development is so singular that there is no other way of describing him. HH is an album that lives up to this artist’s unique talent. It’s simply breathtaking.

“I have been playing with The Master Herbie Hancock for more than 15 years, and still it wasn’t easy to work on his music because the originals are already so beautiful and he keeps developing them every time we play on stage,” Loueke says. “The challenge was to put my own imprints on these masterpieces. To rethink them with my touch on it. He is my mentor and I feel very lucky to be part of his musical journey. It’s a gift to learn that much from him — humanly, spiritually and musically speaking. Being from Benin in West Africa, I carry in my playing the curve of my life. As we are going through a rough time, with the Coronavirus pandemic, I can say that Love, Humanity, Spirituality and Music give me Freedom and Hope on a daily basis — and those are lessons I learnt from Herbie. This project is beyond music in other words. It was a need for me to play his music.”