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Trio Ivoire

world music, jazz
  • Hans Lüdemann
    piano/virtual piano
  • Aly Keïta
    Balaphon/Mbira
  • Christian Thome
    drums/percussion
  • also bookable as quartett mit Dobet Gnahoré
  • or as Trio Ivoire XX “Enchanted Forest”
  • with Simin Tander, Tamara Lukasheva, Monica Akihary, Lisa Wulff und Alexandra Grimal
Booking Bereich: Europe

TRIO IVOIRE combines the inventive spirit of two German improvisers and a sound poet from Côte d’Ivoire: it’s all about the pure pleasure of playing, freely spanning traditions and continents.

TRIO IVOIRE fuses personal roots from the traditions of jazz, European and African music. The combination of the African balafon with piano, drums and electronics creates a contemporary sound without comparison.

Also bookable in these line-ups: Trio Ivoire feat. Dobet Gnahoré and Trio Ivoire XX “Enchanted Forest”

biography

Trio Ivoire has a history of over 20 years of setting the standard for transcultural musical collaboration. With 6 album releases, numerous international tours on several continents, including several tours in Africa and concerts in the United States, performances at major festivals and prestigious concert halls, Trio Ivoire has become a fixture in the concert circuit. Trio Ivoire collaborated with the NDR Bigband in a project in 2012. In 2014, the group’s 4th CD, “Timbuktu,” was named “Album of the Year” in Japan, and in 2015 the trio was nominated as Ensemble of the Year for the ECHO Jazz 2015. In 2017, the 5th album “Desert Pulse” was released, recorded live at the Acht Brücken – Festival Cologne with guests Ballake Sissoko (Kora harp) and Reiner Winterschladen (trumpet). It is a live album containing a kind of “best of” from the group’s repertoire.

Hans Lüdemann – piano/virtual piano, composition
born 1961 and raised in Hamburg, 1978/79 in Los Angeles/USA, lives in Hoffnungsthal. He studied classical piano at the Hamburg Conservatory and jazz piano at the Cologne Music Academy and at the “Banff Centre”/Canada. As a solo pianist he combines acoustic and “virtual” piano sounds to a microtonal instrument. He has collaborated with Jan Garbarek, Paul Bley, Marc Ducret, Toumani Diabaté, Muhal Richard Abrams and Heinz Sauer, and has led the German-French TransEuropeExpress Ensemble since 2013. As a composer, he has created an extensive body of work and has received commissions from WDR, the NDR Big Band, and the Cologne Opera. His publications include the sheet music volume “Rhythmic Etudes”, the solo – CD “the real piano” and the album “Polyjazz” of the TransEuropeExpress. The CD – Box “the art of the trio” was awarded the “ECHO Jazz” in 2013 and the album “mikroPULS” was one of the albums of the year 2019 at “NewYorkCityJazzRecord”. Lüdemann taught jazz piano and ensemble at the Musikhochschule Köln from 1993 – 2008 and was “Cornell Visiting Professor” at Swarthmore College in Philadelphia/USA in 2009/10 and 2015/16. He received composition scholarships from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in 2014 and the Cultural Academy Tarabya Istanbul in 2021. Hans Lüdemann was awarded the Rome Prize Villa Massimo for composition in 2021/22. – www.Hansluedemann.de

Aly Keïta – Balaphone/Mbira
1969 born in Abidjan/ Côte d’Ivoire as son of Malian parents and of Malian nationality, lives in Berlin since 2001. He comes from a Malinké family that has been practicing the profession of “griots” (traditional singers and musicians) for generations. He spent his childhood in Abidjan and in Mali, where he learned to play on the the traditional pentatonic balafon, first with Zouratié Coulibaly. Aly Keita built a diatonic balaphone himself and eventually developed the chromatic balaphone that he primarily plays today. He has collaborated with a number of well-known artists in African music, jazz and classical music. Pharoah Sanders, Amadou & Mariam, Trilok Gurtu, Rhoda Scott, Joe Zawinul, Rokia Traoré – and participated on albums by Majid Bekkas, Omar Sosa and Parco Sery and the group “Kalan Tegan”. Aly Keita has been a guest at major international festivals and has performed as a soloist and in ensembles in prestigious concert halls – including the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, the Cologne Philharmonie and the Konzerthaus in Vienna. He regularly gives solo recitals and in 2010 played a two-month tour of East and South Africa for the CCF/Institut Francais. In 2012/13 he toured Europe and the USA as musical director of “Acoustic Africa”, and in 2018 with Rokia Traoré’s project “Kirina”. His debut CD “Akwaba” with his own project was released in 2007, a balaphone solo CD in 2010. In the same year Aly Keita received the German world music award “Creole”. – https://www.facebook.com/alykeita.balafon/

Christian Thomé – Drums/Percussion
(*1970, Düsseldorf) lives in Cologne and works as a drummer, composer, arranger, producer and educator. His projects range from contemporary jazz and free improvised music to world music, experimental electronics, pop music and classical music. He is currently working on abstrakt.club, a concert series for experimental club music, Tarabya Ensemble and Trio Vesna with Ukrainian singer Mariana Sadovska and sound designer Markus Braun. He is also a member of formations around Markus Stockhausen, the project “Wild Life” and the “Markus Stockhausen Group”. The center of his work is the constant development of his unconventional, multi-faceted and tonally colorful drumming. Christian Thomé was a scholarship holder of the Cultural Academy Tarabya of the German Foreign Office in 2016 and 2018 and a scholarship holder in New York City of the State of NRW in 2001. He is a 2018 Echo Jazz award winner with the CD Far Into The Stars by the group Quadrivium and a 2004 Jazzart award winner with his then trio Radio Köber. He is a lecturer for jazz drums, jazz ensemble and subject didactics at the Institute of Music at the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences. – www.christianthome.com

review

„It’s what the musicians do with the instruments that can distinguish a recording that is nobly educational from one that is emotionally engaging. Such is the case the Trio Ivoire’s excellent new album, Desert Pulse.“downbeat Editor’s Pick

„You could go to an entire festival and not see musicians enjoying themselves half as much as the three men that make up Trio Ivoire“HIFAlutin, Harare

“….Indeed, the ensemble’s symmetrical and seamless cross-genre globetrotting enactments equate to one of the finest productions of this ilk that I’ve heard in quite some time…In sum, each piece is a standalone wonder as the musician’s expert craftsmanship and interminable synergy transforms into a highly entertaining platform that had me smiling from start to finish.“All About Jazz, 4 1/2 stars

„Lüdemann loves blue notes as much as harmonic and melodic complexities that he has to rehearse with the African musicians who do not read musical scores. Aly Keita on the other hand,… together with drummer Christian Thomé substantially provides for the precision of the pulse that allows Lüdemann to  make excursions into neighbouring or distant regions without ruffle, even when starting out from intricate cross rhythms.“ – NZfM, 5 stars

„Between new music, Jazz improvisation and African folk, Hans Lüdemann is setting
the standards, decorated with the ECHO award in 2013. Impressions of sound, culture, people and atmosphere are brillantly integrated and worked up. These are fascinating sounds that each follow in turn the other musical background and produce something new as a result.“ –
Jazznmore, Switzerland

„And nothing could have been more enjoyable than a performance by songstress Chiwoniso Maraire and her band that joined forces with Trio Ivoire in a mellow yet passionate Africa Day performance.“Zimbabwe Standard

„The interactive concept surely stems from Jazz. But the beats often rock so hypnotically, as if pianist Hans Lüdemann, balaphon player Aly Keita and drummer Christian Thomé had not only been listening to Jazz, but also to the early works of minimalist Steve Reich… The listener does not need to decide if this still is Jazz or just superbly performed improvised music that has left the categories behind. With powerful and thrilling passages the three catch the ear and with reflective and taken back moments and marked breaks they create variety and keep the tension high.“piano news, 6 stars

„Pianist Hans Lüdemann’s past is steeped in modern and outside jazz realms amid his affiliations with trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff, pianist Paul Bley and other forward-looking explorers… There is no trace of filler material on this album. And while these harmonious themes feature catchy voicings, they’re not sugarcoated, especially since many passages are meaty, highly rhythmic and buoyantly executed via an abundance of vivid tonal contrasts, dense soloing frameworks and magnetic interplay….Indeed, the ensemble’s symmetrical and seamless cross-genre globetrotting enactments equate to one of the finest productions of this ilk that I’ve heard in quite some time…In sum, each piece is a standalone wonder as the musician’s expert craftsmanship and interminable synergy transforms into a highly entertaining platform that had me smiling from start to finish.“Glenn Astarita, All About Jazz, 4 1/2 stars

„Hans Lüdemann, pianist from Hamburg, went out into the world in 1999 and came back with the idea of Afro-European Jazz. Balaphon virtuoso Aly Keita characterizes the ensemble sound of his Trio Ivoire. Catchy rhythms, hypnotic themes and cool beats: on „Timbuktu“ a transcontinental unit presents itself.“ – Audio, Germany

„Pianist Hans Lüdemann’s past is steeped in modern and outside jazz realms amid his affiliations with trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff, pianist Paul Bley and other forward-looking explorers… There is no trace of filler material on this album. And while these harmonious themes feature catchy voicings, they’re not sugarcoated, especially since many passages are meaty, highly rhythmic and buoyantly executed via an abundance of vivid tonal contrasts, dense soloing frameworks and magnetic interplay….Indeed, the ensemble’s symmetrical and seamless cross-genre globetrotting enactments equate to one of the finest productions of this ilk that I’ve heard in quite some time…In sum, each piece is a standalone wonder as the musician’s expert craftsmanship and interminable synergy transforms into a highly entertaining platform that had me smiling from start to finish.“ – Glenn Astarita, All About Jazz, 4 1/2 stars

„Lüdemann loves blue notes as much as harmonic and melodic complexities that he has to rehearse with the African musicians who do not read musical scores. Aly Keita on the other hand,… together with drummer Christian Thomé substantially provides for the precision of the pulse that allows Lüdemann to  make excursions into neighbouring or distant regions without ruffle, even when starting out from intricate cross rhythms.“  – Dietrich Heissenbüttel, NZfM, 5 stars

Led by one of the top award winning piano jazzbos in Germany, this trio, around since 1999, really hits their stride when being inspired by the turmoil in Mali. Part 50’s Ramsey Lewis Trio when they would play off the clock and part modern jazz firmly in the nu Third Stream, this bunch plays the unique kind of piano trio jazz that perks up your ears and grabs your attention. Never a chore to listen to, the interplay these three know how to take front and center never fails to keep you riveted. A winning set from some cats that know how the view looks from the top. Check it out.“ Midwest Record Blog, Chris Spector

.Although the unprecedented instrumental composition draws attention firstly, a fine stroke of interplay between piano and balaphon accomplishes the taste of the whole album fundamentally. Locality of South Africa centering on Mali and the sharply refined Luedmann’s pianism are entangled, its amalgam evokes us of fantastical rise feeling like heart beat, which is gradually accumulated inside of the body. It is Christian Thome’s drums and electronics that add contemporary feeling to the music.“  –Kayo Fushiya, jazztokyo.com/five by five

press

TRIO IVOIRE combines the inventive spirit of two German improvisers and a sound poet from Côte d’Ivoire: it’s all about the pure pleasure of playing, freely spanning traditions and continents. Pianist Hans Lüdemann, who had previously worked with musical greats such as Jan Garbarek, Paul Bley, Heinz Sauer and Marc Ducret, met balaphone master Aly Keita during a solo tour in West Africa in 1999. That same year, they formed the percussive trio with drums, played by Christian Thomé since 2013.

TRIO IVOIRE fuses personal roots from the traditions of jazz, European and African music. The combination of the African balafon with piano, drums and electronics creates a contemporary sound without comparison. This has less to do with traditional music than with finding artistic expression in a globalized world. On the one hand, it is about transporting traditional African instruments into the modern world in order to discover new colors for the piano on the other hand. Together they create their own kind of music beyond the clichés – a joyful play of three extraordinary musical personalities between traditions, visions and experiments. Especially where African polyrhythms and European polyphony combine, or where contrasts are emphasized, the creative energies of the group emerge. The musical magic of TRIO IVOIRE connects jazz back to Africa, in a subtle balance between rich and complex rhythmic and formal structures and an emotional depth “behind the notes” that moves – it reaches directly into the heart of the listener.

Also bookable in these line-ups:

Trio Ivoire feat. Dobet Gnahoré: Exuberant musical richness as a creative force, fed from the sources of African, European music and jazz, is witnessed by the Trio Ivoire and the chansonnière Dobet Gnahoré from Côte d’Ivoire in chamber-musical simplicity and beauty.

Dobet Gnahoré, Afro-pop diva from the Ivory Coast, is often compared to Angélique Kidjo and Miriam Makeba. She sings beguiling pan-African ballads! Sometimes she playfully lets a yodel soar, heartily zapping between chest and head voice, then again her clear velvety-warm alto voice goes under the skin with haunting ballads. In the best manner of a chansonnière, the Ivorian singer Dobet Gnahoré composes and writes the lyrics to her songs herself. She conveys a picture of her very own Africa in the languages Bété, Lingala and Wolof and sings openly about love, death, the exploitation of women and children in Africa. She also contributes instrumentally to Trio Ivoire and shows her quality as a percussionist – and occasionally breathtaking dance interludes! Trio Ivoire had already collaborated with Dobet Gnahoré in 2006 and since 2018 the connection has been renewed again. New songs from the “Enchanted Forest” – CD are joined by some songs composed by her and one or the other piece from the band’s history.

Trio Ivoire XX “Enchanted Forest”:
On the album “Trio Ivoire XX: Enchanted Forest“, Trio Ivoire was finally juxtaposed with a vocal trio of singers Simin Tander, Tamara Lukasheva and Monica Akihary – the two trios are connected by bass (Lisa Wulff) and saxophone (Alexandra Grimal). During the Corona period, there was a trio concert at the Alte Oper Frankfurt 2020 and two streaming concerts at the Loft Cologne (Trio) and Stadtgarten Cologne (Trio Ivoire XX). Since June 2021, the group has been back on the road more live, in June in Romania and in November with singer Dobet Gnahoré as a guest.

“Enchanted Forest” is a new project by Trio Ivoire. It presents the core line-up of the trio Hans Lüdemann (piano & virtual piano) Aly Keita (balaphone) and Christian Thomé (drums & percussion) a vocal trio with Simin Tander, Tamara Lukasheva and Monica Akihary. The double bass of Lisa Wulff is added as a connecting element. The common polyphonic-polyrhythmic fabric of the music of Trio Ivoire gets more breath with the new project “Enchanted Forest”, realized for 2020 for the 20th anniversary of the band. The percussive character of the instruments is contrasted with an additional level by a vocal trio. The three singers complement and amplify one voice each of the instrumental trio, they act as solo voices, improvisationally and also as a sound body of their own. The inspiration for this is, among other things, the vocal polyphonies of Pygmy music.

The group develops improvisations in the collective and with solo excursions and combines these with songs, each of which features a single voice in the foreground. The singers who make up the vocal trio are highly diverse: Simin Tander has found her own unique timbre and approach to language, and has gained international recognition through tours with Tord Gustavsen. Tamara Lukasheva is a virtuoso improviser with an enormous vocal range. Originally from Ukraine, she has become a force on the German jazz scene. Monica Akihary contrasts Lukasheva’s bright sound with the dark timbre of her expressive voice. She lives in Amsterdam and is active internationally from there with “Boiakih” and other projects, and has recently been exploring her Indonesian roots in particular. Hamburg bassist Lisa Wulff connects the two trios and gives them a foundation. The new album “Enchanted Forest” was released in 2020 by “Intuition”.  This project can be realized not only in the large Trio Ivoire XX line-up, but also in a reduced form as a trio plus a voice. Trio Ivoire works together with the singers of the trio as well as more often with Dobet Gnahoré, the African pop diva and Grammy winner from Cote d’Ivoire, who is often compared with Angélique Kidjo and Miriam Makeba.

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