Derek began his formal musical training at the age of six on the violin. After studying classical music in Cape Town for the next thirteen years he began to look further afield for musical inspiration. This search took him to India where he studied South Indian Carnatic music. On his return home he began to focus on the guitar, trying to find a new direction for the instrument. He was attracted to the use of multiple layers in the music of Oliver Messiaen, the African-influenced structures of Steve Reich, as well as to guitar arrangements of the music of J.S.Bach, but it was when he met up with Cape Jazz trumpeter Alex van Heerden that he started to see that his previous studies could be used to find new directions for the music of South Africa.
After a host of groundbreaking albums which redefined the landscape of South African music, most notable being the visionary Sagtevlei with Alex van Heerden, Derek began to incorporate the music of other composers in his performances. His long-time fascination with the music of Brazilian Egberto Gismonti led to a project to transcribe this musician’s guitar music, a composer that Gripper describes as “the Heitor Villa Lobos of our time.” The result is a constantly growing collection of Gismonti’s scores and recordings, many of which have only been recorded by Gismonti himself. The Sound of Water, Derek Gripper’s recording of the music of Egberto Gismonti was nominated for a South African Music Award (SAMA) for the best Classical and Instrumental album of 2012.
“Five stars…Gripper has brilliantly transferred [the kora] repertoire onto a regular six string guitar. He sees [Toumani] Diabaté as the Segovia, or indeed John Williams, of the kora, championing it as a solo instrument. And Gripper brilliantly takes it back to the guitar. He’s opening a whole new repertoire of classical guitar music…bringing African guitar into the classical mainstream.” [Simon Broughton]
“Gripper has cracked it…his playing has a depthless beauty, which does full justice to the complexity of Toumani’s compositions. To do so without any hint of the music being dumbed down is a staggering achievement on solo guitar.” [Nigel Williamson, Songlines Magazine]
“More than a labour of love, Gripper has brought a new purity to the dream-like improvisatory nature of these compositions. My recording of the year, so far!” [Tim Panting, Classical Guitar Magazine]
”The result is astounding, not just for its technical brilliance, but its musicality. Gripper executes these pieces with the precision and attention to detail one might expect from a great classical musician…It’s hard to imagine a more impressive and passionate rendering of Malian music on classical guitar.” [Banning Eyre, Afropop Worldwide]
“A true synthesis and a great album.” [Ian Kearey, fRoots]
31 / 01 / 2017 - Paris / la Cigale (1ère partie Eric Bibb & JJ Milteau)
30 / 05 /2017 FR Angoulême / Festival Musiques Métisses
Du 10 au 13 Juillet / FR / Arles / Les Suds à Arles