Lionel Loueke Trio Plays Berklee on New Year’s Eve

Nick Balkin
December 9, 2010
Press release
Lionel Loueke
Takeshi Ohbayashi
Photo courtesy of the artist

First Night Boston, Berklee College of Music, and 89.7 WGBH present the Lionel Loueke Trio at the Berklee Performance Center on New Year's Eve. The concert kicks off NPR's annual worldwide Toast of the Nation broadcast and is a centerpiece of this year's First Night Boston festival.

Admission is $18 by the purchase of a First Night button. The Lionel Loueke Trio performs two sets to be heard locally at 8:00 p.m. (live NPR broadcast, hosted by Jazz on WGBH's Steve Schwartz), and 9:30 p.m. Loueke's performance will be rebroadcast at 3:15 a.m. Eastern (12:15 a.m. Pacific) for revelers in the Western time zones. Visit for more information.

to a WGBH 89.7 radio feature 

Jazz pianist Takeshi Ohbayashi '10 performs the first set of the evening at 6:30 p.m. Ohbayashi leads a group of current Berklee students that includes Hailey Niswanger on saxophones, Aaron Darrell on bass, and Mark Whitfield Jr. on drums. Each of the three performances will be seated separately. The Berklee Performance Center is located at 136 Massachusetts Avenue in Boston. Please call 617 747-2261 or visit for more information.

Originally from the West African nation of Benin, Lionel Loueke has enjoyed a meteoric rise. In 2008 and 2009, he was chosen Top Rising Star guitarist in the annual DownBeat magazine Critics Poll. Praised by his mentor Herbie Hancock as "a musical painter," Loueke combines harmonic sophistication, soaring melody, a deep knowledge of African music, and conventional and extended guitar techniques to create a warm and evocative sound of his own. A 2001 Berklee graduate, Loueke is joined by longtime bandmates and fellow Berklee grads, bassist Massimo Biolcati and drummer Ferenc Nemeth. Forged through more than 15 years of performing together, the sound of the Lionel Loueke Trio draws upon unique international influences and its members' studies at Berklee and then at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz graduate program under artistic director Terence Blanchard.

New Year's Eve 2010 marks the seventh consecutive year that Berklee, WGBH, and NPR have collaborated to kick off the live holiday special Toast of the Nation. Heard on more than 200 NPR affiliate stations and NPR Worldwide, Toast of the Nation begins in Boston and moves across the country with live celebrations from DC's Kennedy Center with the Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra with Nnenna Freelon; New York City's Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola with an all-star Celebration in Swing led by pianists Cyrus Chestnut and Benny Green; Chicago's Green Mill with a battle of the saxes, Von Freeman versus Edward Petersen; the JD Allen Trio at Denver's Dazzle jazz club; and San Francisco's Yoshi's Jazz Club with Grammy-winning vocalist Dianne Reeves.

For a full schedule of performances, and to find local participating NPR stations, please visit The concert can be heard in the Boston area on 89.7 WGBH FM at It will also be broadcast on Sirius 72 and XM 70 by Real Jazz. Toast of the Nation is produced for NPR by WBGO-FM Newark; WGBH Radio produces the Boston portion of the broadcast.