CD Release Party at The Jewelbox Theater (Rendevouz Restaurant & Bar, 2322 Second Ave., Seattle; $12 (206-441-5823 or

from The Seattle Times:

Why are there no new musical instruments? It’s as if the electric guitar was the ultimate innovation, the last nail in the coffin of music’s social supremacy.

If fresh organic sounds are an endangered species, then Kane Mathis is Greenpeace. Mathis plays the kora, a 21-stringed West African harplike instrument made from a gourd wrapped in cow skin — and the titular instrument in the Andrew Oliver Kora Band.

While not new in the world — it originated at least a couple hundred years ago — the kora is new to Western ears (though jazz trumpeter Don Cherry has been known to play one). Its sound is bright like a harp and soulful like a guitar, less a cascade of notes than discreet, silvery drops.

The Seattle-based Andrew Oliver Kora Band sets it amid relaxed but intricate jazz, with Oliver on piano, Jim Knodle on trumpet, Brady Millard-Kish on upright bass, and Mark DiFlorio on drums.

While that quartet is talented enough on its own, Mathis’ kora adds a vivid sonic quality that transports the whole thing to lofty, unexpected realms. The band’s arrangements of original and traditional African tunes — as heard on “Just 4 U,” the just-released CD that they celebrate tonight at the Rendezvous — splice African melodic concepts and Western jazz structure.

Modest but mesmerizing, it’s as novel and agreeable a sound as you’ve never heard.

Seattle Jazz