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The word Bokanté means ‘exchange’ in Guadeloupean Creole, the language of vocalist Malika Tirolien’s childhood island. A highly appropriate name for a group of musicians from 5 countries (and 4 continents) whose cultural and musical identities converge in the music they create together. It’s music that traces the blues, from its roots in Africa and the Arab World, and throughout the diaspora, and places it firmly into a modern context.
Bokanté’s members have achieved great success in their own individual paths (with Paul Simon, Sting, Snarky Puppy, Yo-Yo Ma, etc.) and each musician’s personality shines through in songs that speak to the challenges and strengths of the complex socio-political environment in which we live. As a lyricist Tirolien paints beautiful imagery and tells stories that tackle issues head on. Exploring the reality of this very important – and potentially dangerous – moment in time, whilst still celebrating who we are and what we have in spite of everything.
On the album What Heat, Bokanté have worked with Jules Buckley and the Metropole Orkest. Band member Michael League first worked with the orchestra on the Snarky Puppy album Sylva. “This is the first album we’ve made together since ‘Sylva’, and I believe it to be every bit as adventurous. The Metropole is a rarity in that it has the versatility and skill set to play across a wide variety of modern music styles with deep understanding. It opens up possibilities as an arranger that would not be available with other orchestras. Jules and I did our best to take full advantage of those possibilities in every way we could.”