Voyagers is a New York based trio of world class musicians, who perform traditional African themed music as well as their own compositions. Audiences love them.

The Music

Voyagers is a unique acoustic trio featuring kora maestro Yacouba Sissoko from Mali, Austrian saxophonist  Edith Lettner, and American guitarist Banning Eyre.  Yacouba is a musician in the Griot tradition from the renowned Sissoko family in Mali. Lettner is a veteran collaborator with West African musicians, both in Austria and Senegal. And Eyre has a long history of forays into African guitar. All three are seasoned, respected musicians who have long had their own separate musical careers.

Since first meeting in New York in 2013, they have delighted in performing together whenever all three were in town, and for good reason: they make magic – lively, enchanting, grooving without drums – the soft magic of three melody instruments (kora has 21 strings), their melodic and rhythmic lines and patterns linking in perfectly. Theirs is music deep with tradition and alive with improvisation and spontaneity, to the delight of audiences whenever they perform.

The Voyager Musicians

      Yacouba Sissoko – vocals & kora (Mali)

      Edith Lettner – alto & soprano saxophone (Austria)

      Banning Eyre – guitar (USA)

Musician Short Biographies

Yacouba Sissoko

Yacouba is a Master Kora player from the Djely griot tradition. He was born in Mali and currently lives in New York City. Yacouba is in demand as one of the best kora players in the world, playing with jazz, Latin and R & B bands as well as traditional African ceremonies. Some of his standout collaborations include jazz violinist Regina Carter and the singers Bobby McFerrin, Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon and Youssou N´Dour.

His grandfather, Samakoun Tounkara, began teaching Yacouba when he was 12 years old. Yacouba attended the Institut National des Arts du Mali in Bamako. After his graduation, he played with artists like Taye and Oumou Sacko, Haja Soumano, Djallou Demba, Ami Koita, Fantani Koure, Kandia Kouyate and l’Ensemble Instrumental du Mali. From 1993 to1998 he performed all over the world with the Ensemble Koteba, the 45-piece band of Souleymane Koli. He has traveled to almost every nation on the African continent, as well as most of Europe, Canada, the US and Australia. As leader of his own band Siya, and member of the groups Super Mande, Yacouba continues to play and record with many famous musicians, including the groups Source, Tamalalou, Fula Flute and Yacande. https://yacousiskora.com/

Edith Lettner

Edith has played with countless African musicians, mainly in Austria, Senegal and New York. She traveled to Senegal 13 times and worked with many great musicians there; among the better known in Africa and internationally are Baboulaye Sissoko, Suleymane Faye, Orchestre National du Senegal, Thione Seck and Mansour Seck, collaborator and lifelong friend of Baaba Maal. In New York she has played with the likes of Martino Attangana and Mandingo Ambassadors. Besides Yacouba Sissoko Edith has played with several kora players from the Griot tradition. In 2010 she founded her ensemble African Jazz Spirit in Dakar, Senegal, performing her own compositions and those of bassist Cheikh Ndao. In 2012 the group recorded it ́s first CD “Trust Your Way” at the renowned jazz club Porgy & Bess in Vienna.  In 2017 and 2018 she and Yacouba gave a combination performance and lecture on Griot music and history for the World Music Institute in New York.

Though she has a long history of learning and performing sub-Saharan African music, Edith is not an artist who limits herself to any one genre – for example her recent 4 concert tour of Gnawa music in Morocco with guitarist and vocalist Karim Chajry. But she is perhaps best known for her virtuosity in jazz and contemporary music* as exemplified by Taking Off, the latest CD from her European jazz ensemble, Edith Lettner’s Freemotion – the album has received glowing press reviews in both Europe and the US. Edith is also enthusiastic about all forms of improvisational music; the most recent illustration of this is her European tour with electronic music virtuoso Dafna Naphtali in the spring of 2019.

For years Vienna and New York have served as Edith’s two musical bases, and in 2017 she added a third location, Salt Spring Island in western Canada. www.edith-lettner.net

* For a list of some of the great jazz musicians she has collaborated with over the years, link to her long-form biography

Banning Eyre

Beside being a virtuoso guitarist is also an author, radio producer and Senior Editor at Afropop.org. He has been researching and learning African guitar styles for over 20 years, including a seven-month apprenticeship with Malian guitar master Djelimady Tounkara. He continues to travel regularly in African to research and to discover and learn new music.

Banning has developed an original composition and performance style that along with his own background in American finger-style guitar incorporates traditions from Mali, Congo, Zimbabwe and Madagascar among others, He plays on four Thomas Mapfumo albums and his book on Thomas Mapfumo and the contemporary history of Zimbabwe was published by Duke University Press in 2015. Banning played on a track on Taj Mahal and Toumani Diabate’s Kulanjan (Hannibal 1999), which was voted Folk Roots “Album of the Year” in the UK

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. He also performs with the band Timbila, and with numerous musicians playing African music in New York City. www.banningeyre.com

 

Photos of Voyager Musicians

Yacouba Sissoko

Edith Lettner

Banning Eyre

Voyagers in Concert

Performing at Barbes in Brooklyn NY March 2018
recording studio rooftop Brooklyn 1 – Feb 2020
recording studio rooftop-Brooklyn 2 – Feb 2019
Performing at Barbes in Brooklyn NY March 2018

Audio & Video

Live Audio Recordings

Recorded live, March 2018 at Barbes’ legendary performance space, Brooklyn, NY

Solole (traditional) 9:57
Ghana (Banning Eyre) 7:34
Danama (traditional) 9:10
Unité (Edith Lettner) 5:54

Video – Voyagers in Concert

Websites of Voyager Musicians

      Yacouba Sissoko: http://www.yacousiskora.com/
      Edith Lettner: http://www.edith-lettner.net/
      Banning Eyre:  http://www.banningeyre.com/

Edith Lettner’s North American Contact Information

Cell: 916.477.1391 (anywhere in North America)

edith.lettner@gmail.com.

Edith’s assistant, Jack Nealon: johnfnealon@gmail.com

NOTE: Edith is in Europe from Sept 3, 2019 until Dec 4. From there she will travel to New York and then on to spend the Christmas holidays in Canada on Dec 20th. She will return to NYC for 6 weeks early in February.

Edith’s European Contact Information

phone: +43.699.123.60207 

edith.lettner@gmail.com.

Edith’s assistant, Jack Nealon: johnfnealon@gmail.com

Pisching 9, A-3683 Yspertal, Ausrria

More About Edith Lettner 

      Edith’s Biography (long version)
      Edith’s Vienna jazz ensemble, Edith Lettner’s Freemotion
      US and European Press Reviews of Freemotion’s latest CD
      Edith’s ensemble of African/Jazz Fusion  African Jazz Spirit

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