The term supergroup gets thrown around a lot these days with high calibre musicians joining ranks to work on special projects that bring together different musical sensibilities—so much so that it has become a bit of a cliché. That is far from the case with recently formed Bokanté, meaning “exchange” in Creole. Michael League from Snarky Puppy was the driving force behind forming the group as he recognized the potential music has to break down barriers to address urgent global crisis and bring social awareness to the challenges of exclusion and cynicism.
He founded Bokanté with fellow Snarky Puppy alumi Chris McQueen and Bob Lanzetti and an impressive group of musicians with backgrounds that circle the globe. Its debut release Strange Circles is available today (Apple Music | Google Play) and the group is embarking on its first world-tour including a stop at our Festival!
Let’s introduce the rest of the band…
Malika Tirolien is a powerhouse vocalist who sings in Creole and French. She currently lives in Montreal but grew up on the Caribbean Island of Guadeloupe. Backed by a superb trio of percussionists—the legendary Jamey Haddad, who has played with Paul Simon and Sting, André Ferrari from Swedish contemporary folk group Väsen, and Keita Ogawa who also performs with the opener Banda Magda. Rounding out the gang is powerhouse Roosevelt Collier a pedal and lap steel virtuoso.
Rolling Stone has described the group as “one of the more versatile groups on the planet right now.” League wrote Strange Circles in tandem back-and-forth with Tirolien, and demoed some of the tracks with other bands on tour. Many of the musicians did not meet in person until the first day of recording in New York. The release brings together the extensive and diverse musical knowledge of the group of artists that is amazingly cohesive and compelling and goes from Zeppelin-esque blues stomp to folkloric Caribbean kaladja.
This is music with great heart and soul. It’s warm—sultry even. And it has a potent message that everyone can relate to, referencing what’s happening today with racism, global politics, the environment, and the fight against apathy. But the message is hopeful and it is a vibrant experiment of connection and community.
The group crosses generational, cultural, and language divides. Be one of the first in the world to see this incredible new supergroup perform live at the Vogue Theatre on Tuesday, June 28.