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Richard Bona 

When: Thu., Feb. 19, 8 & 10 p.m., Fri., Feb. 20, 8 & 10 p.m., Sat., Feb. 21, 8 & 10 p.m. and Sun., Feb. 22, 7 & 9 p.m. 2009
Price: $12-$22, kids' matinee $5

Born in a small Cameroon village with strong musical traditions but a paucity of resources, Richard Bona joined his church choir as a kid and learned balafon, flutes, and percussion shortly thereafter. He not only mastered several instruments but figured out how to construct them from scavenged materials (including bicycle cables, according to his bio). Bona learned jazz by ear, and decided to take up bass after hearing JacoPastorius' Portrait of Tracy. He later moved to Paris, then New York, and established himself as a sideman for such A-list acts as Pat Metheny, Bobby McFerrin, and Herbie Hancock. His style mixes traditional jazz with world fusion, often incorporating vocal scats in a way that prefigured the work of Esperanza Spalding and Lionel Loueke. Bona graces Yoshi's (510 Embarcadero West, Oakland) Feb. 19 through Feb. 22 (8 & 10 p.m.), and Feb. 23 (2 & 7 p.m.). $16-$22. Yoshis.com


— Rachel Swan

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