NICOLAS KUMMERT 'la diversité' featuring LIONEL LOUEKE

The major new international release from Belgian saxophonist Nicolas Kummert featuring guitarist Lionel Loueke.

"I was blessed to be able to record this beautiful project. Nicolas Kummert is a great player and composer with a great sense of melody. He's not afraid to explore the unknown which I believe is the greatest quality and challenge for a musician. That’s what the whole band is all about".

NICOLAS KUMMERT tenor sax, voice


So, why La Diversité? ‘Purity’ doesn't exist because it is an evolutionary dead-end. Diversity is reality, it is our only way to go. Diversity is today’s toughest challenge, but because purity would lead to extinction, we, as a species, have no choice but to embrace diversity.

Nicolas’ interest in diversity in music has led him to play with African artists (amoung others) such as Manu Dibango and Keziah Jones, and sees him regularly travel to the continent to play concerts and creative residences.

After a formative two month stay in Senegal when I was 17 I had the chance to collaborate with many different African artists in Brussels and Paris and to travel with them to Africa which took me several times to Benin, Mali, Senegal, Kenya, Sao Tomé, Morocco and Tunisia… I always felt surprisingly comfortable there and developed a strong connection to the continent and its people, especially in French speaking West Africa. My last collaboration was, for example, a dance/music creation with dancers and musicians from Mali and Belgium…

Nicolas first met Lionel Loueke through Beninese singer Patrick Ruffino, when they recorded the album E wa Ka Djo in 2008. In 2015 he asked the internationally renowned guitarist to join his new band, and they played their first concert in Brussels in September 2015. Undoubtedly it was the sense of humanity and positivity in Nicolas’ writing that attracted Loueke:

...this idea was somehow present in my mind during the whole process of putting the band together and composing the music: the need to embrace differences and praise them, because we need all colours, every single shade of them, to make the beautiful world we live in. 

Lionael also brings a pallete of musical diversity with him to the project having shared stages with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Robert Glasper and many other international stars during his illustrious career to date.

Lionel Loueke is probably the only musician I know that can catch my attention with beautiful solos, rich harmonies and make me feel like dancing in every song we play. Playing with this quartet and with Lionel in particular is incredibly comfortable and supportive; Lionel is a never ending source of ideas and he also constantly adapts to what I play, magnifying it in the process… We constantly tease one another, trying to throw each other off course, knowing that we can get back to each other at any time.

Experienced Belgian bassist Nicolas Thys and Canadian drummer Karl Jannuska round out the quartet, which Nicolas describes as his dream band:

They are musicians that I know pay as much attention to listening as playing. The result is a genuine feel-good band for me. I believe we all have such a strong sense of form and there is so much listening going on that I want to have the music as free and improvised as possible, because I trust we will always end up with meaningful and beautiful music, and that's incredible fun!

As for the songs: My compositions often have African influences or I look at them through an African ‘prism’, playing the song with an afro groove (as in the treatment of Cohen's Hallelujah), or playing sax and shouting which I got from Peul flute players doing this in West Africa…

The result is a rich, but never over-complicated musical style that has compelled and excited audiences across Europe and Africa. With Loueke, Thys and Jannuska’s contributions, the album naturally fuses music from diverse cultural roots into a powerful, organic entity. Just witnessing the friendship and empathy that exists between Nicolas and Lionel and their almost telepathic musical bond, it is hard to see La Diversité as anything less than the beginning of a great musical story.

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