Guitarist Lionel Loueke grew up in the tiny West African country Benin, but the terrain he covers in his music is vast. A graduate of Paris' American School of Modern Music and Boston's Berklee College of Music, Loueke was mentored by jazz greats Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Terence Blanchard through his studies at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. "I flipped," says Hancock, recalling the first time he listened to Loueke's playing. "I'd never heard any guitar player play anything close to what I was hearing from him. There was no territory that was forbidden, and he was fearless!" Loueke took up the guitar late; he didn't start playing till he was 17. Loueke, who fell in love with jazz after hearing a CD by guitarist George Benson, has performed as a member of Blanchard's sextet and Hancock's quartet. His most recent album as the leader of his trio is Heritage.
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