Category Archives: Performances




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 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.

Dialogues – Warren Smith & Edith Lettner

World renowned percussionist Warren Smith was a mainstay and co-founder of Max Roach‘s M‘Boom ensemble and leader of the Composer‘s Workshop Ensemble, a New York based composition and performance ensemble. Smith is a master of all things percussive, from the vibraphone and marimba, to the drum set, timpani, and gong, among other instruments.

One of his earliest major recording dates was with Miles Davis as a Vibraphonist in 1957. He has worked with many great musicians and singers such as Sam Rivers, Anthony Braxton, Gil Evans, Charles Mingus, Tony Williams, Nina Simon, Aretha Franklyn, Van Morrison, Quincy Jones, Count Basie and Carmen McRae and many others. In the 1970s and 1980s Smith had a loft called Studio Wis which acted as a performing and recording space for many young New York jazz musicians, such as Wadada Leo Smith and Oliver Lake.

Improvised music is a passion of saxophonist and duduk player Edith Lettner. She has played with musicians from all over the world and she thrives on unusual performing situations. She improvises not only with musicians, but with artists of other genres such as dancers, visual artists and poets. Her own paintings and drawings are the results of an improvisational process.

The CD Aanderud/Hecht/Lettner Live In Vienna 2011 is showcasing her improvisational skills; it contains the recording of a performance with the Mexican jazz musicans Mark Aanderud and Hernán Hecht whom Edith met for the first time in her life at this concert.

It is often said that music can transcend all boundaries. While coming from quite diverse backgrounds, with Warren born in USA in 1934 and Edith born in Austria in 1964, the duo’s rapport comes through eloquently in their music. They also welcome guests to perform with them, such as NY based poet Steve Dalachinsky, who will appear with them at the Cornelia Street Café on February 4th 2014.

Edith also looks for opportunities to combine projected visuals of her art work with her live musical improvisations: while the musicians are playing inside the projections their improvisation is influenced by the visual impressions.