The Kora Band

Something new on the jazz scene is the The Kora Band , in a recent performance at Tula’s, Thursday Sept 9th. They are pianist Andrew Oliver, Brady Millard-Kish, bass, Kane Mathis, kora and guitar, Chad McCullough, trumpet and Mark DiFlorio, drums and percussion.

The 21-string harp played largely by the Mandinka people of West Africa is not usually seen in a jazz band but on Thursday The Kora Band celebrated the release of their newest album “Cascades” which contains a variety of West African pieces, modern repertoire from Congo and Cameroon, as well as originals by Mathis and Oliver with some subtle influences of jazz. Tula’s was crowded for the first two sets and the music was a delightful mixture of African and Jazz sounds and rhythms.

Drummer Mark DiFlorio and pianist Andrew Oliver spent one month staying in Africa and when they returned to the Northwest found the expressive melody of the kora,   resonating with them still. They sought out and found kora player Kane Mathis and along with Chad McCullough on trumpet and Brady Millard-Kish on bass, formed the Kora Band, marrying kora and other West African musical traditions with elements of jazz. They put out their first album “Just 4 U” in 2009.

“Performing on the 21-string Mandinka Harp 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.” from Mathis’s website, Kane Mathis –

Their performance at Tula’s aso kicked off a west coast touring schedule but they will be back at Tula’s on October 15th. I look forward to hearing them again back as they play on the opening day of Seattle’s Earshot Jazz Festival. To learn more about the band go to the websites of the band: The Kora Band – and each of the musicians:

Chad McCullough –
Andrew Oliver –
Brady Millard-Kish –


Photography by Seattle photographer Daniel Sheehan, who photographs jazz performances, and creates portrait photography for publications and Seattle Wedding Photography with an artistic photojournalist style.

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