A blend of jamm'in African to American instruments perfect for festivals, events, and clubs.
International Talent Meet at San Jose Jazz Summer Fest
"Not far from the main stage and the club crawl, tucked inside a ballroom at the Fairmont Hotel, Pascal Bokar Afro Blue Grazz Band also wowed the capacity crowd, encouraging dancing from the floor (and got it). The composer/guitarist/educator’s take on the African roots of jazz and Delta blues was unique in its execution, thanks to the large band, a revue so mighty, the small stage barely could contain its energy, not to mention its personnel.
Sounding like a great convergence of The Love Unlimited Orchestra and Fela Kuti’s Egypt 80, Bokar was born in France, raised in Mali and Sengal and currently lives in the Bay Area. A charismatic guitarist and bandleader, he moved his players through a relentless groove, fed by drums, congas, two keyboards and—most surprising and delightfully—fiddle and banjo. Vocalists and dancers were featured amid a celebratory spirit, drawing from multiple traditional musics."
Guitarist Pascal Bokar artfully weaves African, jazz threads
Bokar's main tool in that effort is the guitar, which he wields with a style and grace all his own. His distinctively percussive style of playing evokes the balafon, a Malian relative of marimba, and ngoni, a native style of lute. It's a combination Bokar somehow makes sound perfectly jazzlike, as if the spirit of Wes Montgomery is permanently lodged inside his guitar's body.
Bokar's backing band easily follows his lead in maintaining a fluid and shifting balance between folk and jazz elements, with hand drums artfully mixing with the traditional rhythm section and flute/saxophone.
Pascal Bokar illuminates links between Africa and jazz
Savanna is a cultural meeting place. The meeting of cultures is what Thiam is about: the movement of African culture via the Middle Passage to African-Americans of the slavery era; the movement of African-American culture into the mainstream culture of the U.S., which he calls “the most Africanized nation in the Western Hemisphere.”
Pascal moved as a toddler with his family — mom Noelle is French — to Senegal, and spent portions of his childhood in neighboring Mali. Home life resounded with the sounds of the kora (a West African harp), the balafon (an instrument similar to a marimba), the djembe (a hand drum, ubiquitous in West Africa) and the ngori (an ancient lute, related to the banjo). Often, the friends playing these instruments were members of the ancient Diabaté clan of historian-musicians, including Toumani Diabaté, who is Thiam’s cousin and today is a star on the world music circuit.
It is the brainchild of composer, guitarist, vocalist Pascal Bokar. His music is an innovative fusion of textures and styles drawing from multiple traditional musical styles. West African rhythms, melodies and percussion fused with Bluegrass, Jazz, R&B and Gospel. A celebratory infectious groove fed delightfully by the West African balafon (ancestor of the marimba) sabar drum, banjo and fiddle combined with high velocity bebop scat guitar, drums, bass, vocals and two keyboards. This high energy band fuels the stomp/clap percussion of a gospel choir and the intensity of its musical conviction drives the listeners to uncontrollable dancing and participation. All this accompanied by richly harmonized vocals.
Pascal Bokar, what the composer says about the Afro Blue Grazz Project;
“ My compositional approach was to create something different but familiar at the same time, a balanced and coherent musical synthesis of the organic sonic landscape of the rhythmic, harmonic and melodic American experience… My music is an expression of the unique richness of our collective American socio-cultural experience celebrating its diversity while contemplating the actuality of our collective humanity…I truly believe in the universality principle of music and I wanted to create an authentic medium that would reflect its harmonic, melodic and rhythmic socio-cultural expression…but as the Father of Rock’n’Roll, the Great Chuck Berry said “there is nothing new under the Sun“ : )