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music series - Derek Gripper – Cancelled -

Derek Gripper – Cancelled

It took *Derek Gripper untold hours of painstaking work to transcribe note­ for ­note the complex compositions of Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté and find a way of playing them on six­ string guitar. The results appeared on his ninth album, One Night on Earth, recorded with an orchestra of crickets (who he didn’t invite). The album created an unprecedented meeting point between the written tradition of Western classical music and the oral tradition of the West African griots and most importantly allowed Derek to make many friends in the streets of Bamako without being able to speak a word of French or Bambara.

Critical acclaim was quick to follow. Classical guitar legend John Williams said he thought it was “absolutely impossible until I heard Derek Gripper do it” and was really pleased that somebody was playing new music on the classical guitar. Toumani Diabaté himself asked for confirmation that it was indeed just one person playing one guitar which delighted Derek who had considered giving up music when he first heard Diabate’s multi layered solo recordings. Both invited Derek to collaborate with them: Derek performed with Williams in London’s Shakespeare’s Globe and King’s Place, and with Diabaté and his Symmetric Orchestra at the Acoustik Festival Bamako, Mali. He also played with Trioda Kali at Carnegie Hall and won a Songlines Award for the best album in Africa and the Middle East. Which is amazing because Derek has never been to the Middle East. He has been to (and played in) the USA, Canada, Britain, a lot of Europe, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Namibia, Australia, Malaysia, India and Mali.

“Five stars…Gripper has brilliantly transferred [the kora] repertoire onto a regular six string guitar. He sees [Toumani] Diabaté as the Segovia, or indeed John Williams, of the kora, championing it as a solo instrument. And Gripper brilliantly takes it back to the guitar. He’s opening a whole new repertoire of classical guitar music…bringing African guitar into the classical mainstream.” [Simon Broughton]

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