The New York Times describes Lionel Loueke as ''a spellbinding presence'' with ''a strongly original voice.'' After witnessing Loueke's audition for the Thelonious Monk Institute, Herbie Hancock said, ''I've never heard any guitar player play anything close to what I was hearing.'' Loueke grew up in the Republic of Benin, steeped in the music of West Africa but also listening to jazz. He began life as a percussionist, but at the age of 17, he took up the guitar. His talent was immediately apparent. He went to Paris to study jazz at the American School of Modern Music, and then came to the US on a scholarship to Berklee College of Music. His acceptance at the Monk Institute brought new dimensions to Loueke's world. From there he began to collaborate with some of the greatest names in music, including Wayne Shorter, Sting, Chick Corea, and of course Herbie Hancock. The Journey brings together the wide range of influences that shape Lionel's distinctive musical personality. Produced by Grammy-winner Robert Sadin, the album features bassist Pino Palladino, famed for his work with the Who, Patrick Messina, solo clarinet of the Orchestre National de France, great improvising string players Vincent Ségal and Mark Feldman and Brazilian master of percussion Cyro Baptista.