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Interview with Richard Bona

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  • "Richard Bona speaks with Mark Ruffin about growing up in Cameroon, Africa, in a small eastern town called Minta; learning to play the balaphon at the age of three; playing in his grandfather's band at the local church by the time he was five; playing solo gigs by the time he was eight; moving to the capital of Cameroon, Yaounde, with his family when he was eleven; learning to play guitar by translating his knowledge of and skill on the balaphon; being approached to play in a jazz club, but not knowing jazz music; hearing the music of Jaco Pastorius, and its influence on him; learning Pastorius' style in three months, and playing jazz on bass guitar; discovering the music of Ben Webster and Josef Zawinul; moving to France, at age nineteen, after the death of his father; meeting Fela Kuti, and his impressions of the musician; playing jazz music in Paris; the types of musicians he seeks out to play with, those who are equally comfortable playing jazz and non-jazz styles; being hired by Josef Zawinul and moving to N.Y. in 1994 to tour with the Zawinul Syndicate; recognizing the connection between himself, Josef Zawinul and Jaco Pastorius; his inspiration from his grandfather; various anecdotes of Josef Zawinul while on tour; being introduced to Harry Belafonte, and becoming his musical director; lessons learned through Belafonte; meeting Mike Stern in 1991 and finding a kindred spirit in him; getting a record deal with Columbia Records through Jeff Levinson and Branford Marsalis, and the positive experience he had working with them; eventually moving to a French record label, Universal, and deciding never to sign in America again after discovering that his artistic integrity was being jepordized by music executives in the U.S.; the music industry in the U.S., and his opinions of its management; his desire to present a wide variety of musical styles as reflected in his influences and life experiences; returning to vocals, and his feeling that singers are story tellers; his recent release, Bona makes you sweat, and the inclusion of salsa rhythms; performing with Lionel Loueke at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and his impressions of Loueke, including a possible future tour."

  • "Interview with Richard Bona"