Preview: Lionel Loueke Interview

Lionel Loueke

Here is a preview of the interview we did with Lionel Loueke. It's only about 15% of the full interview, which appears in the Liner Notes magazine - included in all of our November 2020 subscription boxes.

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Lionel Loueke's album HH is the November 2020 selection for Groovalo Jazz.


How did this record HH come about?

(Note: HH stands for Herbie Hancock, Loueke’s long time mentor)

Well I’ve been with Herbie for more than 15 years, so the idea for me was to find a way to present his music, and through his music, present my vision and all the stuff I learnt from him. 

For me personally, it’s not just about the music, it’s about the person, how much influence he had on so many of us from generation to generation, and also, you know, try to find the best tune for me, not the easiest but aha, the one that can challenge me as I’m not a piano player, and this is a solo project which make it even harder. Herbie’s music - harmonically - is already intense. I had to find a way to make it my own. It’s not going to be better, that’s not my idea - it’s just different to the originals.

What was the biggest surprise you had when you were making it?

The biggest surprise was in the studio, because I didn’t prepare that much. I wanted to find the raw approach to his music, even if I’ve been playing it for a while. Massimo Biolcati, who was the co-producer, on the third day in the studio he said: “Man, what about playing One-finger Snap?” and in my head I said “oh yeah, why not!” but I had no idea what I was going to do. So that was a good surprise actually. I like how it came out, you know, because maybe I hear the head in and then I went completely into zombie territory. And I like those kinds of weird situations.

The other one was Dolphin Dance, he asked me to play Dolphin Dance too, so those were, for me, the good surprises. You just throw yourself in a situation and have no idea how it’s going to end, and it’s by trying that you discover.

The record is a completely solo recording - did you take a different approach than when you record with a band?

Yeah, because a band, you know, has more support. (laughs). You know, everybody, each person plays his part and beyond. But when you play solo, it’s more challenging. I like the challenge. Being solo just keeps it wide open, and I like that because you know, some of Herbie’s tunes, I have to play the bassline and melody at the same time. For example, on Rockit, I'm playing both at the same time.


That's it for now! For the full interview, select a genre and subscribe to a record club.

Photo: Dave Stapleton