Black Atlantic: Derek Gripper & Africa Strings
South African classical guitarist Derek Gripper gave himself what seemed to be an impossible task: to transcribe the intricate twenty-one-string-kora compositions of Malian master Toumani Diabaté for six-string guitar. When Diabaté himself heard the results, the awestruck musician demanded confirmation that he was indeed only hearing one guitar; he later invited Gripper to collaborate. For decades, Gripper has worked to create a new international repertoire for classical guitar. In that quest, he has turned to the music of South Africa and Brazil, but consecutive albums of his sublime kora interpretations - his breakthrough 'One Night on Earth' (2012) and his award-winning 'Libraries on Fire' (2016) - have made him one of the world's foremost guitarists and contextualized the kora's mesmerizing counterpoint in the classical tradition. Joined by Congolese guitarist Jaja Bashengezi and Ugandan multi-instrumentalist Kinobe as part of his African Strings Project, Gripper is an essential musical emissary.