Snarky Puppy bassist’s new group is ready to tour, release debut in 2017
By David Sands
January 27, 2016
Snarky Puppy bassist and bandleader Michael League has a new ensemble in the wings; but rather than the improvisational pop of the Grammy-winning Puppies, this time around he’s taking things in a decidedly global direction with an eight-member international music ensemble called Bokanté. The new group, which blends together a variety of musical traditions, intends to tour and release an album later this year.
Its name Bokanté comes from a Creole word that means “exchange.” Not coincidentally, Creole also happens to be the native language of the outfit’s singer Malika Tirolien. A native of the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe and current resident of Montreal, she’s a tri-lingual vocalist who sings in both Creole and French. You can hear her singing with Bokanté in the video for their song “Jou Ké Ouvè,” which will appear on their debut album, Strange Circles, when it’s released this May. (SEE VIDEO BELOW.)
Tirolien’s presence is illustrative of the international makeup of the ensemble; the group features eight musicians from four different continents, hailing from countries like United States, Sweden, Japan.
In turn, the international composition of the group is a reflection of both Bokanté’s sound and purpose. Sonically, the group pulls from several different genres including blues, rock and Caribbean folks, while philosophically it seeks to spread a message of “social awareness against the rising tide of exclusion and human indifference.”
“Unity was paramount in the formation of this group,” says League in a statement. “Though the ensemble is multi-lingual, multi-cultural, and multi-generational, we all feel connected as musicians and people. And in combining our different accents I feel that there is a strangely common and poignant sound, one that can reach and relate to listeners around the world.”
In addition to Tirolien, the new outfit also includes League‘s guitar playing pals Chris McQueen and Bob Lanzetti from Snarky Puppy, as well as pedal and lap steel guitar wizard Roosevelt Collier (Lee Boys, Karl Denson) and percussionists André Ferrari (Väsen) and Keita Ogawa (Banda Magda, Yo-Yo Ma). League himself will be swapping out his bass for a baritone guitar during their live shows, though he’ll be playing both on Strange Circles.
Bokanté will kick things off with a debut show at the GroundUP Music Festival, which takes place Feb. 10-12 in Miami Beach Florida. Other tour dates in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia, Europe, and South America are being planned for later this year.
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