Kane Mathis

Born: November, 1975    Primary Instrument: Kora

Kane Mathis

Performing on the 21-string Mandinka Harp and the Turkish Oud, Kane Mathis renders compelling interpretations of these traditional musics. Years of study with generous masters have given Kane a rare opportunity to share these traditions with other cultures.

Kane began taking trips to The Gambia, West Africa in 1997 and has continued rigorous study of the Mandinka Kora. Over the past ten years his performances have earned him recognition by the Gambian president, The Gambian minister of culture, and both national television and radio of The Gambia.

Kane’s primary kora teachers are Malamini Jobarteh of Brikama, The Gambia and Moriba Kouyate of The Gambia. The Jobarteh family remain one of The Gambia’s most important musical legacies. Tata Din din Jobarteh, Pa Bobo Jobarteh, and Siffai Jobarteh are the families current most visible exponents touring the world....
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Kane Mathis has developed a remarkable mastery of Mande music. Whether playing solo kora or with his tight, trio of balafon, kora and djembe drum, he is a pleasure to hear. It is not only that Mathis is comfortable and well versed in the Mande repertoire; it's that when he plays, he swings in exactly the right way, probably the hardest thing for an outsider to grasp in this rich, West African tradition. Kora music features improvisation, but like writing poetry in a foreign language, you have to follow the rules. Mathis manages this, with phrasing, accents, tone and riffs-even the fast ones-that feel just right. His sound is both authentic and spontaneous, good enough to sound like an insider, but relaxed and personal enough to be far more than polished mimicry. It is rare indeed for a non-African to reach this level in any African tradition, particularly such a subtle and demanding one.

Banning Eyre, Senior Editor: Afropop Worldwide

Listening to Kane Mathis’ kora playing brings to mind Keith Jarrett’s Koln Concert. Their instruments are similar: in Mathis’ case, the kora is a 21-stringed West African harp that he learned in Gambia. Take the guts out of Jarrett’s piano, stand them up and pluck them, and you have the same idea. Both performers employ gorgeous improvisation on top of simple rhythms; their songs meander between chord and melody, creating a continuous, crystalline drone.

Seattle Weekly: Erik Neumann

Kane Mathis, Siloo (Self Released, 2010)
The Kora Band, Cascades (Origin, 2010)
The Kora Band, June 2009 Studio Session (Origin, 2009)
The Kora Band, Live At Jimmy Maks 10-9-09 (Self Released, 2009)
The Kora Band, Just 4 U (Origin, 2009)
The Sahel Band, The Sahel Band (Self Released, 2008)
Kane Mathis, 2005 (Self Released, 2005)
Kane Mathis, Kora And Percussion (Self Produced, 2004)

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Kane Mathis and Timothy Quigly, "Kaira (Peace)"

The Kora Band, 2009

Mathis playing oud at Barbes, Brooklyn:

The Sahel Band, live

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Featured recording “Cascades”

Origin Records (2010)

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