Timbuktu: the CD title and the name of the capital of Mali has two meanings for the participating musicians and for many people on Earth. On one hand, the city stands for the rich heritage of Africa on many cultural levels, including music, and on the other hand for violence and chaos. The musicians were confronted with sad reports from Timbuktu at the time of recording the CD. During rehearsals, Aly Keita took up a figure that conveys the feeling of the music from the north of Mali. A piece developed from there in a playful and improvising way, which was then named "Timbuktu" as was the complete CD later. Trio Ivoire has succeeded impressively from their beginnings in 1999 until today to interweave the music culture of West Africa with "Western" music, above all jazz, without sacrificing anything in one or the other or even compromising one of the two. A new "Third Stream" is almost created from African rhythmic and melodic elements and the style of jazz. The result does not seem forced or an attempt at cheap sensationalism at any point.
Hans Lüdemann: "The combination of instruments in TRIO IVOIRE with balaphon, piano and drums is unique and without precedence. The new album of TRIO IVOIRE brings us back to the core of our long years of collaboration, to very pure and intimate duos of balaphon and piano. However, it also demonstrates the very different colors of the trio, which the new drummer Christian Thomé adorns with very contemporary grooves and provides a lot of variety and surprises with free improvisation in complex pieces as well as in a few catchy tunes."
Pianist Hans Lüdemann, Echo Jazz Prizewinner 2013, founded the trio in 1999 and has been its leader since then. He started his career as a musician in Hamburg, where he studied under Joachim Kühn, among others. He continued his studies in Canada and Cologne, where he still lives today. He soon became one of the pianists most in demand in Germany and has played alongside of Jan Garbarek, Eberhard Weber, Paul Bley, Marc Ducret, Toumani Diabate, Heinz Sauer, Angelika Niescier and many others. He discovered African music with its 12/8 rhythm and very individual pentatonic scales at an early stage during several trips and tours; the music is thrilling and you can even dance to it despite its often very complex polyrhythm. As a result, his work with "Trio Ivoire" has become a core piece of his many varied activities.
Aly Keita was born in Abidjan (Ivory Coast), but grew up in Mali where he already had lessons in playing the traditional pentatonic balafon as a child. He met George Makinto and consequently encountered jazz when he was still an adolescent. He developed his own diatonic balafon, which enabled him to play in new ways and provided him with many new chances. Starting from the 90s and until today, he has played alongside of Pharoah Sanders, Rokia Traoré, Jan Garbarek, Majid Bekkas and Omar Sosa, to name just a few. Keita is the most skillful and versatile balafon player worldwide today. He is also bursting with ideas and full of boundless energy. He even developed his own chromatic balafon for these recordings.
Christian Thomé is an extremely versatile drummer. Following his studies in Holland, he was able to gain an excellent reputation in new music, jazz and world music. You can hear him on recordings by Moritz Eggert and Markus Stockhausen as well as the Schäl Sick Brass Band. He has played alongside of Michel Godard as well as Dhafer Youssef, Till Brönner and Lee Konitz. He fits in like a puzzle piece into a constellation, which is character-ized strongly by rhythm anyway.