Derek Gripper
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Derek Gripper

Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa | INDIE

Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa | INDIE
Solo World Classical


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Derek Gripper @ Artscape (National Theatre)

Cape Town, Not Applicable, South Africa

Cape Town, Not Applicable, South Africa

Derek Gripper @ Artscape (National Theatre)

Cape Town, Not Applicable, South Africa

Cape Town, Not Applicable, South Africa

Derek Gripper @ Artscape (National Theatre)

Cape Town, Not Applicable, South Africa

Cape Town, Not Applicable, South Africa

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This band has not uploaded any videos



“exciting visionary…thrilling, vibrant.”

- Cape Argus

“consistently fine and immediate.” - Mail and Guardian

“Should go down as a classic of Cape music. Gripper follows in the footsteps of Steve Newman, Tony Cox, Abdullah Ibrahim and all the best painters of the Cape’s aural landscape.”

- Julian Jonker for Mail and Guardian

“Listening to Blomdoorns is being granted a moment of very intimate discourse, a glimpse of secret audio-emotional imagery…the songs are simple, modest and touching, a gifted artist.”

- MR

"A celebration for the guitar through the capable hands and talent of Derek!" - Worcester Music Society

"What a delicate, sensitive approach Derek Gripper displayed to the format of the soirée, absolutely perfectly appropriate, a stunning triumph! It was a most special and delicate balance of passion and virtuosity."

- Richard Wagner Society

“The vulnerability of Gripper’s Chaconne reminds one of Menuhin’s own interpretation.” - Gerard Cousins (UK Recitalist)

“A vital presence in the international guitar world.” - Paul Galbraith (Grammy winner and international guitarist)

"Derek Gripper is not only a versatile guitarist with an extremely solid technique, but also an artist with whose integrity is impeccable. His numerous succesful recitals, always well constructed and thoroughly appreciated, are proof of his skilled musicianship." - Anton Els of Music Maestros (South African Music Promoter)

"Tonight, by complete chance, I happened to witness what could be the
birth of an exciting new sound from South Africa. A country with a
rich jazz history, South Africa has produced many notable artists who
have brought South Africa's unique sensibilities to an audience hungry
for news from the country with such a rich past and heritage. The
Sagtevlei trio continues in this vein.

The Trio sat on a dimly lit stage, interacting in a new music that
defies categorization. It can only be called "a stunning new direction
in South African music." A man in a shiny suit sat perfectly still
behind an equally shiny accordion, adding subtle melodic inflections
to the guitarist whose multilayered textures were accentuated by bass
playing that found a constant balance between melodic virtuosity and
subtle texture.

The Sagtevlei Trio is a group of musicians that break the distinction
between harmonic and melodic music, between African-style polyphonic
repetition and the freedom of open improvisation. While
master-trumpeter Alex van Heerden blew some of the coolest jazz
phrases I have heard in years, a constant stream of interweaving
harmony and rhythm unfolded in the rhythm section. Derek Gripper's
acoustic guitar holds together the song structures, beautifully
accompanied by Brydon Bolton's bass, at times so soft as to be
inaudible, at other times building to bowed orchestral climaxes. The
singing of one or two songs in local dialect, amongst an otherwise
instrumental line-up, brought a distinctly local flavor. While as a
foreigner I was not able to understand the words, the evocative sounds
of the Afrikaans language became part of the musical language, a sound
that required no literal translation.

While the songs provided a reference point for the listener, the
group's highly sensitive and evolved form of collective improvisation
ensured that each member of the audience was constantly guessing, and
entirely involved. To say that the audience was held spellbound would
be an understatement. It was as if applause was superfluous, that it
disrupted the flow of this inspiring music.
One can only imagine what the future may hold for this burst of fresh
air, as South Africa's many talented artists emerge on the
international arena. Ones feeling is that this is a sound which has
yet to develop itself fully, but it is certainly packed with
possibility and promise."

This was to be the last ever performance by the Sagtevlei Trio. Alex Van Heerden (the man in the shiny suit), was killed in a car accident two weeks later. You can listen to a sample from this concert: "Sissie My Kind Kom Huis Toe."

- Roald Schmidt (independent reviewer)


2008: Ale!x with Alex van Heerden and Brydon Bolton
2008: Ayo (solo guitar)
2008: Prayers and Dances (from the six solo by J.S.Bach)
2007: Organic Cello and Guitar ll (with Ha!Man)
2006: Derek Gripper Solo at the Cottage Club
2005: Going Nowhere Slowly (Compilation CD)
2004: Jou Ma se Kitaar (Library CD for Mama Dance)
2004: Organic Cello and Guitar l (with Ha!Man)
2003: Blomdoorns (original compositions for solo eight string guitar) Open Record
2002: Droeland (with Paul Miller and Alex van Heerden)
2002: Hemisfar (with Magnus Banks (Sweden), Alex v Heerden and Kate Ehrhardt)
2001: Sagtevlei (with Alex v Heerden) Open Record
2000: Conference (with Niklas Zimmer) Upland Music

Tracks from these can be sampled on and



Derek Gripper released his ninth album, One Night on Earth: Music from the Strings of Mali, late in 2012, an album of kora interpretations that astonished John Williams into saying he thought it was “absolutely impossible until I heard Derek Gripper do it”. When Kora maestro Toumani Diabate heard these recordings he disbelievingly asked his host and producer Lucy Duran to confirm that she had actually seen one person play this music on just one guitar. Recorded at an all-night session Gripper’s guitar magically conjures anew a centuries-old ancient African musical heritage.

One Night on Earth: Music from the Strings of Mali, captures Gripper’s extraordinary six-string interpretation of Toumani Diabate’s 21-string Kora compositions. Gripper’s “guitar has found the Kora-playing spirit, he captures the magic bound up in the way it is played”, says Williams, who has invited Gripper back a second time to collaborate in “The John Williams Series” at the Globe Theatre, London in June 2015.

Interpreting the compositions of three of Mali’s greatest instrumental virtuosos: kora players Toumani Diabaté and Ballaké Sissoko alongside the music of guitarist Ali Farka Touré, this album created a new form of classical guitar music and a new take on one of Africa’s most complex musical traditions. The UK’s top world music  publication Songlines Magazine called One Night on Earth ”a staggering achievement,” and selected the recording as a Top of the World album in 2013. Derek is currently working on a duo project with world famous guitarist John Williams.

The reception of One Night on Earth has led to invites to play in the US, UK, Turkey, Sweden, Norway, Holland, Switzerland, Denmark, France, Ireland, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and of course in Derek’s home of South Africa.

“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]

Classical Guitar Magazine called Derek’s 2011 recording of original compositions set alongside the works of Brazilian composer Egberto Gismonti “an excellent album…of hypnotic beauty” whilst Guitar International says of the same album that Derek’s world class ability “is able to transcend the instrument itself.” Derek met Gismonti in London in 2014 and the composer immediately offered produce a recording dedicated to Derek’s six-string interpretations of his piano and ten-string guitar works.

“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]

Band Members