For over ten years Derek Gripper has produced some of South Africa’s most extraordinary musical works by fusing the country’s disparate creative traditions with styles throughout the world. His music draws on European classical…
For over ten years Derek Gripper has produced some of South Africa’s most extraordinary musical works by fusing the country’s disparate creative traditions with styles throughout the world. His music draws on European classical traditions, avant-garde Brazilian works, Malian kora works, Cape Town’s folk styles such as ghoema/goema and vastrap, and even Indian classical music, all the while synthesising them into a style uniquely his own.
Derek Gripper’s discography already includes one of the most musically mature and visionary albums created in South African history-the superb ensemble effort Sagtevlei-and he has maintained this creative momentum through his solo works as well as through his collaborations with artists ranging from Xhosa instrumentalists, Indian tabla masters, and a select group of composers whose works he has brought to life on the guitar. His most recent work has drawn on the compositions of master musicians such as Toumani Diabate, Egberto Gismonti, Ballake Sissoko, and Ali Farka Toure to single-handedly sketch a new musical and cultural landscape for the contemporary classical guitar.
In “One Night on Earth: Music from the Strings of Mali”, Derek Gripper has arranged and performed on guitar the compositions of legendary Malian musicians Toumani Diabate, Ali Farka Toure, Ballake Sissoke and Vincent Segal. The extraordinary feat of this recording can only be imagined when one considers that this music was originally composed for and played on the kora, a 21 string African harp-lute made from a skin covered calabash with a hardwood neck.
In an article by Chris Roper in the Mail & Guardian, Derek Gripper describes the kora 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.”
Of Derek Gripper’s interpretation of this music, Chris Roper writes: ”Doing sublime justice to this music on six strings is an incredible achievement…. As with the excellent album, it is music that leaves you feeling a little more than human, a little better than human.”
Derek Gripper offers an extraordinary voice in post-apartheid South African cultural landscape, one that demonstrates the country’s new musical confidence by forging fresh paths through cross-genre, cross-generational, and cross-cultural collaborations.
“Gripper is able to transcend the instrument with his performances…” Guitar International
“Gripper creates a sound worthy of South Africa’s pluralistic musical landscape” Classic Feel
“a gentle masterpiece.” The Times UK
“an open-minded fusion of classical and indigenous.” Art South Africa