Lionel Loueke's debut solo album, Virgin Forest, features legendary pianist Herbie Hancock, percussionist Cyro Baptista, Gregoire Maret and others. The recording includes a number of preludes with West African percussion ensembles led by the Raimi and Tessi Brothers. Mr. Loueke traveled to his homeland of Cotonou, Benin, West Africa to preserve these native rhythms he describes as "disappearing."
Early reviews position Virgin Forest to become one of the groundbreaking jazz albums of our era. With virtually no "standards" performed on the album, Virgin Forest is a blend of original Loueke compositions and a series of one-on-one improvisations with Herbie Hancock and Cyro Baptista, exquisitely captured by renowned producer Robert Sadin.
Declared a "masterpiece" by France's Vibrations Magazine, Virgin Forest was selected as Record of the Month by Jazz Magazine, Mezzo Magazine as well as Vibrations Magazine. The album received a four-and-a-half star rating from Echoes Magazine's Kevin Le Gendre, adding, "With Virgin Forest, Loueke can stake his claim as a real original, an artist for whom notions of genre become an irrelevance such is the sheer beauty of his work."