BANNING EYRE – guitar
EDITH LETTNER – alto & soprano saxophone
￼￼Yacouba Sissoko is a Master Kora player from the Djely griot tradition. He was born in Mali. His grandfather, Samakoun Tounkara, began teaching Yacouba when he was 12 years old. Yacouba attended the Institut National des ArtsduMaliinBamako.Afterhisgraduation,
he played with artists like Taye and Oumou Sacko, Haja Soumano, Djallou Demba, Ami Koita, Fantani Koure, Kandia Kouyate and l’Ensemble Instrumental du Mali. From 1993 to1998 he was performing all over the world with the Ensemble Koteba, the 45-piece band of Souleymane Koli. He has traveled to almost every nation on the African continent, as well as most of Europe, Canada, the US and Australia. He is in demand as one of the best kora players in the world, playing with jazz, Latin and R & B bands as well as traditional African ceremonies. As leader of his own band Siya, and member of the groups Super Mande Yacouba continues to play and record with many famous musicians, including the groups Source, Tamalalou,Fula Flute and Yacande. Absolutely outstanding is his collaboration with jazz violinist Regina Carter.
Banning Eyre is an author, guitarist, radio producer, and Senior Editor at Afropop.org. He has been researching and learning African guitar styles for over 20 years, including a seven-month apprenticeship with Malian guitar master Djelimady Tounkara. Eyre has developed an original composition and performance style that incorporates traditions from Mali, Congo, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and beyond, along with his own background in American fingerstyle guitar. He plays on four Thomas Mapfumo albums and his book on Thomas Mapfumo and the contemporary history of Zimbabwe will come out on Duke University Press in 2015. Eyre also played on a track on Taj Mahal and Toumani Diabate’s Kulanjan (Hannibal 1999), which was voted Folk Roots “Album of the Year” in the UK. He performs with the band Timbila, and with various musicians playing African music in New York City.
Edith Lettner has played with numerous African musicians, mainly in Austria, Senegal and New York (e.g. Martino Attangana) for more than 15 years. In Senegal she worked with many great muscians- unknown and famous as well- such as Baboulaye Sissoko Suleymane Faye, Orchestre National du Senegal, Thione Seck and Mansour Seck, best known for his collaboration with lifelong friend Baaba Maal. Edith has played with several kora players from the Griot tradition. 2010 she founded her own project African Jazz Spirit in Dakar/ Senegal, playing her own compositions and the compositions of bassist Cheikh Ndao. 2012 the group recorded it ́s first CD „Trust Your Way“ at the renowned jazz club Porgy & Bess in Vienna.