Solo Acoustic Guitarist | African and Contemporary | Composer and Performer

One Night On Earth (2012)






Songline’s Magazine’s May 2013 selection as a Top of the World, this album is a world first: a recording of Malian kora music on solo acoustic guitar by South African guitarist Derek Gripper. The complete solo works of Malian kora legend Toumani Diabate, with tracks by fellow Malians Ali Farka Toure and Ballake Sissoko as well as a track by French cellist Vincent Segal (from his collaboration with Sissoko). A truly original African Guitar sound and a fresh and ground-breaking proposal for a redefinition of African classical music. Read more about this project and order guitar tablatures of the music

One Night on Earth, recorded in a single all night session, includes Derek Gripper’s extraordinary interpretation of the Malian kora on guitar. This CD features the compositions of legendary Malian musicians Toumani Diabate, Ali Farka Toure, Ballake Sissoke and the French cellist, Vincent Segal.

The kora which is a 21 string African harp-lute made from a skin covered calabash with a hardwood neck is described by Derek Gripper as “one of the most complex instruments in Africa, an instrument able to perform bass lines and harmonic accompaniment while simultaneously improvising virtuosic melodic lines, creating the impression of a three-piece ensemble on just one instrument.”

In an article by Chris Roper in the Mail & Guardian, Derek Gripper describes the problems he encountered when trying to play this music: “There seemed to be no way even to echo what I was hearing: one instrument played by one person, with different voices playing in different times, with melodies that exploded in impossibly fast configurations. It seemed impossible to reproduce the rhythmic complexity of a 21-string African harp, played by the world’s great virtuosos, on a simple six-string guitar.”

“And yet,” says African music expert Banning Eyre of, “the result is astounding, not just for its technical brilliance, but its musicality. Gripper executes these pieces with the precision and attention to detail one might expect from a great classical musician.”

Chris Roper remarks when reviewing the launch of One Night on Earth in Cape Town that, “Doing sublime justice to this music on six strings is an incredible achievement…it is music that leaves you feeling a little more than human, a little better than human.”

Derek Gripper’s solo guitar recording of Malian music is an excellent addition to his African repertoire for the classical guitar. “One Night on Earth: Music from the Strings of Mali” was released in 2012.



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