West African guitarist Lionel Loueke was inspired by his brother, who taught him how to play during his late teenage years. Stops at the Ivory Coast's National Institute of Arts, Paris' American School of More Than Music, and Berklee College of Music led Loueke to appearances on a series of high-profile recordings, including Terence Blanchard's Bounce and Flow, Charlie Haden's Land of the Sun, and Herbie Hancock's Possibilities. Apart from his role in the trio Gilfema (with bassist Massimo Biolcati and drummer Ferenc Nemeth), Loueke has recorded on his own, including the live In a Trance and Virgin Forest. He released his first Blue Note album, Karibu, in 2008. In 2009, Loueke guested on Magos Herrera's album Distancia. His second album for Blue Note, Mwaliko, appeared in early 2010. In 2012, Loueke released the trio album Heritage, which was produced by and features contributions from acclaimed jazz pianist Robert Glasper.
On Gaïa, his fourth album, Loueke continued use of the electric guitar exclusively. He explored expansive notions of African rock and jazz with Biolcati and Nemeth. The album was recorded in front of an invited studio audience, fulfilling the guitarist's wish to capture the band in a concert setting. The album was released by Blue Note at the end of October in 2015. ~ Andy Kellman