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Richard Bona is a Cameroonian singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist of jazz and jazz fusion, specializing in electric bass, an instrument of which he is one of today’s leading exponents.
Bona was born on October 28, 1967 in Minta, a small town in eastern Cameroon. Richard started playing the balafon at only four years old, stimulated by his mother and grandfather, who had built the instrument that the child played more than twelve hours a day, and with five years old Bona was already performing in the local church, where He quickly became a little local legend, a child prodigy whose shows at weddings, baptisms and small parties everyone wanted to contemplate. When he was 11, he moved with his father to the port town of Douala and there he realized that to attract more people he would need to learn a new, more modern instrument. Using flutes and guitars that he himself had made with oil cans and bicycle wires, he finally found work as a guitarist in a Douala band.
In 1980 the owner of a local club asked Bona to form a jazz band for his establishment, giving him access to his vinyl collection. When Bona heard impressed the debut album of Jaco Pastorius, he decided to change the main instrument, adopting since then as the main instrument the electric bass.
After the death of his father in 1985, Bona decided to leave Cameroon to settle in Paris in 1989 with only 22 years. There his fame as a virtuoso did nothing but grow in each of his appearances in local jazz clubs, along with musicians like Didier Lockwood, Marc Ducret, Manu Dibango or Salif Keïta. Richard continued to deepen his study of the work of great jazz musicians such as Miles Davis, Chet Baker or Ben Webster.
He enrolled in a music school to perfect his skills as a composer and created his own band called Point Cardinale. Finally, the keyboardist Joe Zawinul, in his constant search for new talents, noticed the presence of the young bassist in the Parisian clubs and signed him for his 1992 album We the people, which meant the bassist’s record debut as a companion of a name of international relevance. In 1995, animated by the guitarist Mike Stern, Bona left Paris to settle in New York, in whose jam scene it would cause an immediate and notable impact; Suddenly, Richard found himself working with the biggest names in the world jazz scene, such as Mike Stern, Randy Brecker, Michael Brecker, Bob James, Chick Corea, Bobby McFerrin or Branford Marsalis among many others.
In 1998, Bona recorded the first of his four solo albums, Scenes From My Life, and a year later he would embark as a backup singer and percussionist on a world tour with Pat Metheny Group, along with Steve Rodby, the bassist from the band. In 2004 Bona forms his own fixed sextet with which he has toured the main jazz festivals of the world. Although since then the musician has focused on his solo projects, he still maintains a busy schedule of collaborations, in addition to acting sporadically with Mike Stern, Steps Ahead or the Jaco Pastorius Big Band in different venues in New York.
In July of 2017 the album Two parts of me by guitarist Antonio Rey is released, in which he collaborates in the song that bears the same name as the album.
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