Lionel's story reminds me of my conversation with South African trumpet player Hugh Masakala and his experiences when he first came to New York City in the early 1960's. Immediately upon landing, Hugh was literally shuttled off the plane and paraded around to every jazz club in the city to meet the likes of Miles Davis, Art Blakey and John Coltrane; introduced as the first African jazz musician to arriving from mother Africa. Expectations were high for Hugh as many jazz musicians at that time first began exploring their African roots. Hugh said that he truly felt like a fish out of water as he was trying to emulate a style closer to traditional jazz music rather than to infuse his African roots, as he was mentored by Louis Armstrong who had personally send Hugh one of his own trumpets in the 1950s. American jazz at that time musicians were excited and expecting to hear jazz music directly from its African source, but would have to wait a few more years until the following generations of musicians would begin to take full advantage of not only African roots, but influences from around the world, as Lionel so eloquently has done for us all.
- Dave Schroeder, NYU Jazz Interview Series Host