“Modest but mesmerizing, it’s as novel and agreeable a sound as you’ve never heard.” – Seattle Times
“Mathis’ and Oliver’s duets blended together so seamlessly, it sounded as if one giant 109 stringed harp was being played by a four armed musician.” – Seattle Weekly
“Cerebral enough to form complex interplay between the traditional kora sounds and modern piano sounds, but more importantly, being able to fuse the musics into something that is at once modern, thoughtful jazz and innovations upon traditional music.” – All Music Guide
The Kora Band integrates the entrancing timbre of the kora, a traditional 21-string harp from West Africa, into a jazz context, bringing together two musical traditions with historical connections to reflect the globalized world of the 21st century.
Founded by London-based American pianist and composer Andrew Oliver after a 2007 U.S. State Department tour to West Africa, the band features New York-based virtuoso Kane Mathis on kora, bringing extensive knowledge from two decades of study with master musicians in the Gambia in addition to conservatory training in the U.S. Andrew and Kane perform as a duo or in trio with a percussionist, and the piano and kora provide the churning background of the full quintet featuring trumpet, bass, and drums.
The group’s 2010 album “Cascades” (OA2 Records) won Earshot Jazz’s award for “Northwest Jazz Album of the Year” and peaked at #12 on the U.S. World Music radio charts. The quintet’s new album “New Cities”, commissioned by a 2012 Chamber Music America New Jazz Works Grant, will be released in the fall of 2015 on Whirlwind Recordings with quintet performances in the Northwest U.S. and duo performances on the East Coast as well as a UK tour with an all star cast including Byron Wallen (trumpet), Michael Janisch (bass), and Dave De Rose (drums).
The Kora Band Quintet on KCTS9 Seattle:
Kane Mathis and Andrew Oliver with Mark DiFlorio on percussion: