Manu Koch—a Swiss painist and composer based in New York City—started Filtron M in 2012, as a project to bring together the many genres and musical cultures he encountered while touring the world and playing with some of the leading figures of contemporary music across almost two decades. NepaMali, a distinct incarnation of Filtron M, brings Manu together with several of his friends and collaborators from over the years: the Malian kora player Balla Tounkara, the US bassist Damon Banks, the Swiss saxophonist Dave Feusi and the Nepali percussionist Navin Chettri.
Manu Koch – Keys
Balla Tounkara – Kora
Damon Banks – Bass
Dave Feusi – Saxophone
Navin Chettri – Percussion
Since the release of his debut album Triple Life in 2011 Swiss pianist, keyboarder and composer Manu Koch has shifted focus mostly on his multi-cultural project Filtron M. After moving to Boston in 1993 where graduated from Berklee College of Music 4 years later he relocated to New York in 2000 where he still lives today. As a professional he has performed at major festivals and concert halls throughout the US and Europe, from India and East Asia to Colombia and Brazil, collaborated with Angélique Kidjo, Benny Rietveld, James Chance, Mahmoud Ahmed, Cindy Blackman and appeared in concert with top international artists such as Dave Liebman, Trilok Gurtu, Roy Hargrove, Mino Cinelu and Hüsnü Şenlendirici among many others.
Balla Tounkara was born in Mali, West Africa into one of the most prestigious griot families in that country. He studied the kora with his grandfathers, Samakou Tounkara and Batouroue Sekou Kouyate, one of the most respected players of that instrument in the world. In the mid 90’s Balla moved to the US and after his studies at the Berklee College of Music he could be heard on the streets of Harvard Square in Cambridge, Ma. With his band Groupe Spirit he began fusing traditional Mande music with Western music such as rock, funk and jazz and eventually started performing regularly at the Middle East Corner in Cambridge and later after his relocation to New York at venues like Joe’s Pub, or at the Francopholie Festival in Montreal. During that time, he also joined the group Peace Pipe by jazz bassist Ben Allison with whom he toured all over the world. In 2012 Balla moved back to Bamako in his home country Mali where he performs regularly.
Dave Feusi studied saxophone both at Conservatory of Zürich and at Berklee College of Music. During his years in the US he joined the group Fat Bag with whom he opened for acts like Da La Soul, Jamiroquai and P-Funk. After returning to Switzerland in 1998 he quickly became one of the most in demand sax players in the country joining many prominent bands including in recent years the premier Swiss rapper Bligg’s touring band as well as blues artist Philipp Fankhauser’s group. Besides being president of the Jazzbaragge organization with the weekly Wednesday Jazz jams inZürich since 2001 he has also shared the stage with artists such as Eddie Harris, Bob Moses and Marvin Smitty Smith.
Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Damon Banks has performed with and / or recorded with some of the entertainment industry’s brightest stars, creative artists and innovative musicians. Most of these artists defy category and transcend genre. These artists include: George Benson, Peter Gabriel, Caetano Veloso, Angelique Kidjo, Hassan Hakmoun & Zahar, Chico Hamilton, Hubert Laws, Wadada Leo Smith, Arto Lindsay / Marc Ribot, Loose Ends, The Neville Brothers, Phyllis Hyman, Majek Fashek, C.J Chenier, Noel Pointer, Corin Curschellas, George Howard, Bobby Womack, Lillias White, Ronny Jordan, Miki Howard, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, KRS-ONE, Sekou Sundiata, DJ SPOOKY, Karsh Kale, Lawrence “Butch” Morris, Ntozake Shange, Angela Bofill, Saul Williams, Roxane Butterfly, Eileen Ivers and Adam Rudolph.among other.
Navin Chettri is a percussionist, vocalist, composer, educator and the Founder & Artistic Director of The Kathmandu Jazz Festival (Jazzmandu) in Nepal and Artist in Residence / Organizer of the World Music Celebration at the Lionel Hampton School of Music in the US. Chettri is considered to be a pioneer and a driving force behind the growth of Jazz in Nepal. His music is a blend of elements from Nepali folk music, Indian classical influences, West African sounds and jazz. He has shared the stage with musicians from around the world including Sting, Diane Reeves, Bobby McFerrin, Dee Daniels, Claudio Roditti, Tito Puente Jr, and Magda Giannikou, to name a few.
“Any band is only ever as good as its drummer and this one is surprisingly good”. Sting, Walking on the Moon, Men’s Journal (England)