Derek Gripper’s influences range from Cape Town to Western classical music and the oral tradition of the West African griots. Gripper is a seeker, a restless guitarist. He’s invented his own musical notation, studied musical philosophy, transcribed traditional Malian music and collaborated extensively.
Perhaps his most impressive accomplishment thus far is his album ‘One Night on Earth.’ It features transcriptions of Malian tunes written for a 21-stringed instrument called the kora. So unbelievable was the feat – the kora plays bass, harmony, and melody lines at once, supremely difficult on guitar – that kora master Toumani Diabate didn’t believe the recording was the work of a single player.
Gripper didn’t stop there, however. His career has been a process of continual reinvention. Gripper embodies what Ursula K. Le Guin meant when she wrote, “I am tired of safe places, and roofs, and walls around me.”