It took Derek Gripper untold hours of painstaking work to transcribe note-for-note the complex compositions of Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté and find a way of playing them on classical six-string guitar. The results appeared on his ninth album, One Night on Earth, marking a meeting point of the written tradition of Western classical music and the oral tradition of the West African griots.
Critical acclaim was quick to follow. Classical guitar legend John Williams said he thought it was “absolutely impossible until I heard Derek Gripper do it”. Toumani Diabaté himself asked for confirmation that it was indeed just one person playing one guitar. Both immediately invited Derek to collaborate with them, Williams at three different concerts in London, and Diabaté at the Acoustik Festival Bamako, Mali.
Derek continues his inspired interpretations of West African composers on his latest album, Libraries on Fire which won a Songlines Award for Best African and Middle Eastern Album for 2017.
Derek's next releases are a recording of Bach's solo violin works, transcribed for guitar, a new record of African songs and a duo record with cellist Mike Block.