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Globe Music releases Mali in Oak, a collaboration between South African guitarist Derek Gripper and Nigerian kora player Tunde Jegede

Friday 3 March 2017

Shakespeare’s Globe today announces Mali in Oak, the third release on Globe Music, which will be released on Friday 3 March. A celebration of West African songcraft, Mali in Oak brings together two of the world’s most unclassifiable string players – Nigerian master kora player Tunde Jegede and South African guitarist Derek Gripper – and was recorded in the intimate, candle-lit ambience of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

 

Mali in Oak uses as its starting point the idea of two musicians – an African born in Europe and a European born in Africa – trained in the Western classical tradition, attempting to enter into the realm of the griots, traditional bards, historians and virtuoso musicians among the Mande peoples of West Africa. A combination of duets and solos, the release features modern interpretations of classics alongside new compositions.

 

Derek Gripper has won wide critical acclaim for his adaptations of music for the twenty one-string kora to the six-string guitar, with his most recent album Libraries on Fire selected as one of Songlines’ Best Albums of 2016. Mali in Oak sees him record with a kora for the first time, having performed with Jegede in a concert series curated by legendary guitarist John Williams at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2014 and 2015.

 

Bill Barclay, Director of Music at Shakespeare’s Globe, says:

This sparkling collaboration is particularly special to me as it’s connected so deeply to both tradition and innovation, a dialectic that is the heart of hearts at the Globe. Tunde was trained by Amadu Bansang Jobarteh; the Jobarteh’s are one of only a handful of West African families whose lineage in the oral history of the kora exists unbroken since at least the time of Shakespeare. Meanwhile Derek is using his guitar to create a new repertory and database for the African classical guitar. Both are Renaissance men with enormous respect for their roots while each being trailblazing pioneers in their own spheres. This wouldn’t necessarily guarantee a wonderful record of music, but in this instance their views and techniques strike an infectious chemistry that both soothes and inspires, calms and ignites. It is a truly magnificent conversation.

 

Derek Gripper says:

I listened to this recording for the first time about a year after we made it. With the distance of time I heard it without reference to a memory of the event—as for the first time. What struck me immediately is that we had approached playing together differently to how it is commonly approached by today’s griots, perhaps because of a western classical conception of music that neither of us has left behind. When Tunde and I play these pieces it is almost as if two complete versions of the compositions coexist, creating a form of counterpoint that is part Bach and part griot. I would like to believe that, in some small way, this is what we have done together on our performance together.’

 

Mali in Oak will be available at the Globe and on Globe Player from Sunday 12 February, on which date a gig at Rich Mix in Shoreditch presenting Derek Gripper will launch the album. More details can be found here: https://www.richmix.org.uk/events/music/paolo-angeli-derek-gripper.


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