Lionel Loueke Trio to perform West African-influenced jazz April 23 at Schwab

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- West African-born jazz guitarist Lionel Loueke has been called “fearless” and his music “warm and evocative.” The Lionel Loueke Trio, making its Penn State debut, performs at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 23, in University Park’s Schwab Auditorium.

Loueke grew up in the tiny country of Benin, but the terrain he covers in his music is vast. A graduate of Paris’ American School of Modern Music and Boston’s Berklee College of Music, Loueke was mentored by jazz greats Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Terrence Blanchard through his studies at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. 

Tickets for the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State presentation are $32 for an adult, $12 for a University Park student and $22 for a person 18 and younger. Buy tickets online at or by phone at 814-863-0255. Outside the local calling area, dial 800-ARTS-TIX. Tickets are also available at four State College locations: Eisenhower Auditorium (weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Penn State Downtown Theatre Center (weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), HUB-Robeson Center Information Desk (weekdays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and Bryce Jordan Center (weekdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.). A grant from the University Park Allocation Committee makes Penn State student prices possible.

Loueke combines harmonic complexity, soaring melody, a deep knowledge of African folk forms and conventional and extended guitar techniques to create a sound of his own.

“I flipped,” Hancock said of his introduction to Loueke. “I’d never heard any guitar player play anything close to what I was hearing from him. There was no territory that was forbidden and he was fearless.”

He has performed with Hancock’s quartet and Blanchard’s sextet. The guitarist’s band for the Penn State concert features bassist Michael Olatuja and drummer Mark Guiliana.

Loueke, who didn’t start playing the guitar until he was 17, was inspired by the music of guitar great George Benson.

“Heritage” is his most recent album as a bandleader. “I called this album ‘Heritage’ because I’ve been blessed by all different parts of the world, and most of the songs reflect that,” Loueke said.

“Mr. Loueke,” wrote a New York Times reviewer, “is a gentle virtuoso.”

Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring Loueke, is offered in Schwab one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders.

Spats Café and Speakeasy sponsors the presentation.

Complimentary round-trip shuttle service is provided between the Eisenhower Parking Deck and Schwab. Patrons may board the shuttle in the area between the parking deck and the Eisenhower Auditorium rear loading dock. The first shuttle leaves Eisenhower at 6:05 p.m., followed by others every 20 minutes until 7:05 p.m. After the concert, the shuttle makes as many trips as necessary to return riders to Eisenhower.

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Last Updated April 07, 2014