Posted by: Andrew | April 24, 2009

Kora Band CD Release Tonight!

The Kora Band’s CD release concert is tonight at 10:30 (doors at 10) at the newly renovated Mississippi Studios, perhaps my new favorite venue in Portland:

We’ll be releasing our debut album “Just 4 U” tonight, and the always exciting and raucous Krebsic Orkestar (in which I play trumpet as well) will be playing second.  We’re very excited.  Here’s a tune from the record, “Jarabi,” as a preview…

And here’s the excellent poster for the gig, designed by (who we hope to see at the show as well!)


And, here’s a brand new review of our album by Tom D’Antoni published in today’s Oregonian:

“Kora To The Core”
by Tom D’Antoni

First, a quick definition.  The kora is a West African 21-stringed instrument, which sounds a little like a harp and is made from a large gourd cut in half and covered with cow skin.  It is traditionally used by musicians and griots of the Mandinko people.  Jazz folks like Don Cherry popularized it in America, although since the sound is so seductive, all it took was a little exposure for it to catch on.

Second, an explanation.  Andrew Oliver is the young composer and keyboardist who burst upon the Portland jazz scene a couple of years ago and who leads and plays in more bands, spanning more genres, than there is room to list.

Although his interest in the kora began when he was in college, Oliver’s 2007 tour of West Africa, with saxophonist Devin Phillips’ band, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, made an indelible impression upon him.  The title of his album, “Just 4 U,” is not a Prince knockoff but the name of a club in which Oliver found himself in Dakar, Senegal.

Surprisingly, he does not play the kora here; rather it’s Seattle’s Kane Mathis, who studied the kora in Gambia. (Mathis also plays guitar on the album.)  Jim Knodle fills a huge role on trumpet, and Brady Millard-Kish on bass and Mark DiFlorio on drums are rock steady.

In the tradition of Cherry, Oliver, who either wrote or arranged most of the tunes, blends the swing and intellect of American jazz with the divine poetry of West African music.

Besides his own compositions, there are traditional Malian tunes arranged for this band, including one Oliver learned on the spot from an African musician in a club there.  Plus, a tribute to Cherry on his lovely “Malinyea.”

Finally, the gig details:

Andrew Oliver Kora Band
Andrew Oliver, piano/keyboard
Kane Mathis, kora and guitar
Jim Knodle, trumpet
Brady Millard-Kish, bass
Mark DiFlorio, drums

Friday, April 24, Doors @ 10, show at 10:30 (Kora Band first, followed by the Krebsic Orkestar)
Mississippi Studios (advance tickets available here under “Krebsic Orkestar/Andrew Oliver Kora Band”
3939 N. Mississippi, PDX


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