The music speaks to issues of culture, race, and poverty while also bringing light to the positives of the world.
Without diving too far back into the backstories of each of the members, by happenstance two musicians met and liked each other’s work.From far away they began to write back and forth and started creating music through a two way transaction that built up on itself and creating something unique.
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Michael League, on the receiving end of three Grammys for individual and collaborative projects of his group Snarky Puppy, founded Bokanté in 2016. Guitarists Chris McQueen and Bob Lanzetti also joined from Snarky Puppy, bringing with them the jam, jazz, rock infused world noise. Percussionist Jamey Haddad, brings his diverse experience, having worked with the likes of Paul Simon and Sting, he is accompanied by André Ferrari, from Väsen. On the pedal and lap steel is Roosevelt Collier, who also brings a wealth of experience, having worked with Lee Boys, bringing a strong voice to the music. Above all the music is the sweet yet deep and the rich voice of Keita Ogawa who sings in French and Creole.
Their unique sound is created through the long standing connections of the band members mix with new connections. The result, music characterised by the building various sounds in new ways mixed with the diverse cultural backgrounds of the members.
The music genre is difficult to place, as it constantly changes and mixes into other things building upon itself. The self-styled group builds upon the improv structure of jazz to be able to move freely while maintaining a coherent and clear music that can be enjoyed time and again. The traditional chanting and repetition of the music is broken up with variations in guitar and melody that forces the rest to change and over and over it turns.
To call the music traditional or limit it to one geographical location would be incorrect. The strength of the music lies in the very diversity of persons contributing to create the music. Due to the primary language of the vocalist Guadeloupean Creole, and her deep rich voice, as well as the structure of the vocals, it would be hasty to misunderstand the vocal melody as overpowering in the music and attribute a singular overpowering origin. The instruments hold as important a voice within the music as the vocals, the background as well as foreground they highlighted in turn, each member bringing a different layer to the overall structure of the song at any time. Bokanté itself means exchange and that best describes the giving, taking, borrowing, and building on of each of the members from each other that the group has worked on since conception and continues to develop as it grows.
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