Virgin Forest is a musical voyage across continents, cultures and genres. Born in Benin, West Africa, guitarist Lionel Loueke brings traditional songs from his homeland and presents them in the framework of the modern jazz idiom. Loueke sings almost as much as he plays, infusing his original tunes with a vocal spontaneity that is as percussive as it is soothing.
Virgin Forest showcases Lionel's innate talent for improvisation. Four pieces in duo with pianist Herbie Hancock and Cyro Baptista, offer dynamics ranging from whisper quiet to explosive. Other featured artists include Gregoire Maret, vocalist Gretchen Parlato and two West African percussion groups recorded in Benin specifically for the album.
"Loueke's playing and singing can be described only as remarkable. In his hands, the guitar is a virtual orchestra, surging with percussion effects, throbbing with rich, often dark harmonies, blending with his scat singing in sudden bursts of bebop pleasures." - Don Heckman, LA Times, October 2006
“Full of ease and often radiant.” - Jim Macnie, Downbeat, November 2006
“Lionel Loueke has already achieved greatness.” - Bill Buettler, Boston Globe, September 2006