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JPR Live Session: Joachim Cooder

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An array mbira is certainly not the first choice for most performers, but in the hands of Joachim Cooder, it has become a remarkable musical tool full of color and nuance. On his new album Over That Road I'm Bound, Cooder sets old folk tunes of Uncle Dave Macon in an all new way.

As a kid, Cooder first heard a number of Uncle Dave Macon tunes strummed on the banjo by his father Ry. As he finds himself a father now, Cooder has reimagined those same tunes to share with his own children. By with the mbira in his hands, the tunes morph and bloom into an almost meditative groove.

A drummer/percussionist by trade, Cooder was a teenager in the mid-1990s, when his father started work on a project linking African and Cuban musicians. But after visa issues prevented the Africans from making the journey to Havana, Ry instead turned to identifying and recording the legendary musicians of Buena Vista Social club, and history was made. Joachim held down the rhythm section on that seminal recording.

It took quite some time for Joachim to step out as both a singer and a songwriter, but on his Nonesuch debut, Over That Road I’m Bound, he showcases an amazing ability to sound unlikely anyone else in the music world.

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As FM Network Program Director and Music Director, Eric oversees many aspects of JPR's broadcast day. He still hosts the occasional Open Air or classical music shift, and is the driving force behind JPR Live Sessions - our popular series of live in-studio music performances and conversations.