„Brücken zwischen Europa und Afrika zu bauen habe ich immer als wesentliches Element meiner Musik verstanden, ebenso das Spielen und Improvisieren mit Menschen aus aller Welt, die neugierig auf ihr Gegenüber sind.“ Für mein aktuelles Album “Express Your Life” ging ich mit Musiker:innen aus Senegal, Mali, Elfenbeinküste, Südamerika und Deutschland ins renommierte Riverside-Studio in Köln.
Zu den prominentesten zählen sicher der Pianist Thomas Rückert (u.a. zwei Alben auf Pirouet, Kooperation mit Lee Konitz, Studienreisen nach Indien, Afrika, Nordamerika) und der international etablierte Balafon-Virtuose Aly Keita, hierzulande bekannt durch das Trio Ivoire mit Hans Lüdemann und Christian Thomé, mit denen ich früher auch schon gearbeitet hat. Die oft an westafrikanische 6/8-Muster angelehnten, teils auch auf südamerikanische Rhythmen (etwa brasilianischem Calypso) basierenden Grooves werden hauptsächlich vom Schlagzeuger Miguel Altamar und dem E-Bassisten Juan Camilo Villa befeuert, beide langjährige Trio-Partner von Marialy Pacheco. In einigen Stücken setzen Aladji Mbaye Tama an der Talking Drum und Pape Seck an den westafrikanischen Congas Bougarabou pointierte Akzente. Aus Chile stammen Gitarrist Alvaro Severino, Drummer Pablo Sáez und der Perkussionist Alfonso Garrido (bekannt von der Band Heavytones). Zum vielgestaltigen Line-up gehört zudem der Bassist Stefan Rademacher (Billy Cobham) oder Issa Sow, dessen markant-sprunghafte und hochfliegende Gesangspassagen unmittelbar an große Vokalisten Westafrikas denken lassen. Dass es beim gemeinsamen Spielen nicht nur um Virtuosität, sondern ebenso um persönliches Einverständnis geht, betont ich gerne: „Der Gitarrist Leif Bräutigam hat mich vor vielen Jahren auf der Bühne gesehen und danach eine CD von mir gekauft – heute spielt er in meiner Band.“
- Sonja Kandels, Robert Niegl: production
- Sonja Kandels, Issa Sow: vocals
- Cordelia Loosen-Sahr: flutes
- Leif Bräutigam: guitars
- Alvaro Severino: acoustic guitar
- Uwe Kropinski: acoustic guitar
- Robert Niegl: piano, e-piano, synths, drums, sounds
- Thomas Rückert: piano, rhodes
- Johannes Nink: saxophone, Christian Waßong: trumpet, Tobias Metzger: trombone
- Aly Keita: ballaphone
- Juan Camilo Villa, Stefan Rademacher: bass
- Pape Seck, Aladji Mbaye Tama, Alfonso Garrido: percussion
- Christian Nink, Miguel Altamar, Pablo Saez: drums
On recent performances, Sonja has been accompanied by:
Mark Reinke began experimenting with the piano at the age of six. He studied Jazz piano in Arnheim, Netherlands, at Hanns Eisler College of Music in Berlin and at Berklee College of Music Boston with Rob van den Broek, Aki Takase, Steve Gray and Richie Beirach.
Mark is working as a musical director and piano player in various formations and theater productions, such as with the Efrat Alony Quartet, Katja Rieman, Hermano Lobo, Tilman Ehrhorn and Johannes Haage, or at the play “Saints and Singing”, directed by American director Robert Wilson.
Hans Luedemann, “one of the great piano players in jazz” (Radio HR, Hessischer Rundfunk), or as praised by Jazz Podium Magazine, “one of the most sophisticated and expressive European piano players.” In varying formations, he is on tour around the world and playing with Jan Garbarek, Toumani Diabate and Aly Keita.
Over many years, Stefan Rademacher has been calling attention through his bass playing for the great Billy Cobham. Due to his unique sound, he advanced to one of the most reputed bass players from Germany. With his electric and acoustic basses he has been performing (among others) with George Duke, Gary Husband, Don Grusin, Randy Brecker, Lee Ritenour, and Chaka Khan.
Harald Ingenhag, high-profile drummer and body percussion player for countless live-, studio- und radio/TV recordings, amongst others Thomas-Kessler-Group, Trio Cattleya, Ali Haurand, Xaver Fischer, Buddy Casino, Pablo Held.
Christian Thomé’s multifaceted and colorful drumming remains incomparable. German newspaper WAZ praises his subtle backing and calls him “a real genius when it comes to using filigree, often electronically sublimated sound dots.” Thanks to his experimental and innovative playing, every gig with him is a surprise..
The grandmaster of balafone, Ivory Coast musician Aly Keita is a cornerstone for African jazz music. Born into a Malinké family in Abidjan, he was initiated into playing this instrumental ancestor of xylophone and marimba by his father. Today, Aly sees his balafon first and foremost as a work of art, while his playing made him the “king” of musical tuning; by adding different sized calabash resonators he keeps customizing his string and wood instrument, making it sound like no other balafon on earth.
He becomes a part of his instrument, caresses it with tenderness, strikes it with force and great speed. He is a magician who expresses the joy of life through his piece of art. On concerts in Europe, Africa, and USA, he has been performing with Trilok Gurtu, Joe Zawinul, Rokia Traoré, Pharaoh Sanders, Rhoda Scott, Camel Zekri, Lukas Ligeti, Gilles Renne, Philippe Sellam, Linley Marte, Etienne M’Bape, Michel Donéda, Xavier Charles, Sekouba Bambino, Paco Séry, Talib Kibwé, Masahiro Sayama, Akétagawa Shoji, Bernard Zadi, Hans Lüdemann, Paco Séry, Paolo Fresu, Manu Solo.
Awale Ouro Akpo from Togo a.k.a. Paply, a constant companion of Sonja’s shows who enthuses the audience with his djembe drumming cascades.
Among Sonja’s guests from West Africa:
Senegalese musicians and dancers Issa Sow, who is traveling around the world with his Ballet du Senegal, talking and singing about traditional dances like Komodougou or Mbalax, Pape Samory Seck from a Griot family, one of the most recognized African percussion players (Djembé, Djoun Djoun, Sabar, Serouba, Bougarabou, Asico und Tama (Talking Drum), along with fiery Senegalese dancer Hélène Sagna.
Singer/songwriter Bernard Mayo, musical partner for Salif Keita, Lokua Kanza.
Jazz-trumpet player Terrence Ngassa from Cameroon.
Musicians & singers in South Africa:
Themba Mokoena (g), Robert Payne (p), Sphelelo Mazibuko (dr), Thembinkosi Mavimbela (b),
(perc:) Ngari El Hadj Ndong, Johnson Ahiable,
(choir:) Khwezi Ndlela, Bonginkosi Zondo, Toto Bubazane, Thuli Mdlalose, Hlengiwe Maqazi, Majola Majola, Nthabiseng Thejane, Ntuthuko Khambule
The late Samba Sock was a master of the talking drum, conga, and bougarabou – an artist who combined traditional and modern African music with elements of soul, salsa, and funk. Born in Dakar, he started his career as a musician at the age of 17, playing with the “Orchestra Gala Yabe” with Bira Guèye (Saxophon). He took part in several festivals throughout the sixties, played on the first “Festival Mondial des Arts Nègres” and won the first prize at the “Semaine de la Jeunesse” in 1968. In the following years he played in different bands: “Moulin Rouge”, “Madison”, and “Diarame Orchestra”. Performing on various other festivals, he became interested in the European music scene and went to Berlin, where he was hired by director Peter Stein to initiate two theatre-music play called “Circoncition” and “Shango” at the “Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz”. He later toured with various formations and productions, such as his band “Sangomar”, with the play “Porgy and Bess”, “Saraba”, “The Guardians of the Groove”, his percussion project “SafSap”, “Samba Sock and Gala Yabe Dance”, or “Super Dadjée”. Samba deceased in 2014. In a portrait documenting the work of Samba Sock and Dudu Toutsi, TV-channel ZDF announced him as one of today’s most important percussion players.
Originally from Cameroon, now Paris-based musician Felix Sabal Lecco is a real monster drummer, playing a mix of funk, hip-hop, Afro, fusion, and jazz. His career reads like a who’s who of pop and jazz and includes world tours with Sting, Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, Herbie Hancock, France Gall, Alan Stivell, Michel Jonasz, Sade, Youssou N’Dour, Miriam Makeba, and Manu Dibango.
At the age of four, Daniel Schroeteler placed himself behind a drum set for the first time. Having graduated at Hogeschool door de Kunsten in Arnheim, he was nominated for the Roos-Gesink-Award. Besides working at Universities in Mainz, Arnheim, and Cologne, Daniel is playing in various jazz formations, such as with Christian-Weidner-Trio, Henning-Berg-Quartet, Werner-Neumann-Quartet, Matthias-Haus-Ensemble, with Supdiver, TITZ, and Talking Jazz (Till Brönner, Dieter Ilg, Charlie Mariano, Martin Sasse) or with Antonis Anissegos, Hayden Chisholms, Marla Glen and Sonja Kandels.
Armin Metz is a well known bass player in the world music scene, while stylistically his live- and studio productions range from D’n’B and electro to house and trance (e.g. with Chiva Chandra’s mastermind Daniel Vernunft). Having developed his own unique style, his bass soli are in high demand on stages and in studios. Armin works with Talvin Singh, Anandan Sivamani, Louis Banks, Felix Sabal-Lecco, Yogeshwara, Tunji Beier, Tim Deluxe, Hossam Shaker, Anuradha Krishnamurthi, Christina Lux, Sonja Kandels a.o.