Lionel Loueke and Gilfema
MASSIMO BIOLCATI (Acoustic Bass/Composer) was born in Stockholm, Sweden. Like many young musicians under the heady influences of rock and pop, his first instrument was guitar. Then, another guitar player friend introduced him to jazz. As they practiced together, the other guy was the better player, so Massimo switched to bass, initially exploring the fretless electric instrument. Soon after, he saw an upright jazz bassist in concert and took a keen interest. His father surprised him with an upright of his own and after six months of the de rigueur calluses and pain that come with acquainting oneself with this instrument, he made his first public performance. At 16, he began studying classical upright bass living in Italy, simultaneously finding inspiration in jazz bassists Charlie Haden (for his sound) and Dave Holland (for his facility, compositions, and approach to odd meters).
Massimo played music through college. At 21, he studied for two more years back in Sweden before earning a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he honed his craft for an additional five more years, eventually earning his master's degree.
FERENC NEMETH (Drummer/Composer) was born in the Southwest of Hungary in the city of Zalacsany. His father was a drummer and young Ferenc began emulating him, intuitively, at the ripe young age of 3. His dad encouraged this, allowing Master Ferenc to sit in his lap to play traditional Hungarian czardas rhythms at celebrations such as weddings and parties, as well as "Fox" dirges on more solemn occasions. Knowing very early that music would be his life's pursuit, Ferenc began to practice in earnest, balancing classical piano study at 12 with playing in a Top 40 band (with a little bossa and samba) as a teen.
Ferenc attended Gyor Classical Music High School and graduated to an Academy in Budapest that had a jazz department. At 22, Ferenc transferred to the Berklee College of Music. While in Boston, he studied with renowned drum teacher Gary Chaffe, who had him woodshedding on such classic recordings as Miles Davis' Four and More. Ferenc gleaned key inspiration from jazz drumming legends Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, and Jack DeJohnette. Ferenc started his master's at New England Conservatory of Music, and finished his master's in music (Jazz Performance) in Los Angeles at USC.
Ferenc has also worked with ObliqSound artists Tama Waipara, Leo Tardin's Grand Pianoramax, and Michele Locatelli's Renovation Unlimited.
LIONEL GILLES LOUEKE (Guitarist/Vocalist/Composer) (pronounced "lee oh nell") was born in Benin, West Africa, which is between Togo and Nigeria. He speaks and sings in the languages Fon (from Benin) and Mina (from Togo). Though he is typically addressed as Gilles (with the French pronunciation "zheels") by everyone in his homeland, outside of Africa he is known by his traditional first name, Lionel (thanks to the particulars of European and American legal "channels").
Lionel was first drawn to percussion as a child but soon found himself under the spell of his older brother Alesis' guitar playing. "I loved music," he says, "and would have played anything that was available to me. Guitar happened to be the first instrument I could get my hands on." Alesis taught his brother all he could from ages 17-20. Then Lionel began classical guitar studies at the National Institute of Arts in Ivory Coast. At 23, he migrated to Paris' American School of More than Music, whose faculty consists primarily of Berklee graduates. A dynamic student and musician, Lionel aced a scholarship to Boston's Berklee College of Music in January 1999. In 2001, he auditioned for the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, and was selected in a worldwide search by a panel of judges including jazz legends Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, and Wayne Shorter. He studied on this full scholarship at USC in Los Angeles, until May 2003.
Beyond Gilfema, Lionel was a participant on Charlie Haden's Grammy-winning Verve Records album, Land of Song. He worked with trumpeter Terence Blanchard beginning in 2002, touring, recording, and contributing compositions for his Blue Note Records albums Bounce (2003) and Flow (2005). Lionel has also worked extensively with Herbie Hancock, who invited Lionel to sit in with him, Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland, and Brian Blade at the 2004 Tokyo Jazz Festival - a highlight of his career thus far.
Lionel has also recorded two CDs under his own name: In A Trance and Virgin Forest on the labels Space Time and Obliqsound. He has studied with Mick Goodrick, John Damiam, George Garzone, Russell Ferante, Joe Diorio, Terence Blanchard, Dave Holland, Kenny Barron, Steve Turre, John Scofield, Louis Nash, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and many others.