1986 album cover, Frontline
|Genres||Jazz, Jazz fusion, Jazz-funk, Christian|
Koinonia was a band birthed from the fusion in jazz music, which occurred in the 1970s and 1980s, contributing to a new, more electrified and diverse genre called jazz-funk. Other notable pioneers in this genre were: The Crusaders, Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Alphonse Mouzon, Chick Corea, Lee Ritenour, Azymuth, Eumir Deodato, Jeff Lorber, and Seawind.
Though less known in the United States, Koinonia established themselves as a huge sensation in Scandinavia and Western Europe, performing to sell-out crowds from 1982 to 1991 in Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Switzerland and France. Their Latin-infused rhythms and upbeat melodies gave them a distinct and cultured sound. Taken from a Greek word used in the Bible to mean “intimate fellowship” Koinonia was notably one of the first Christian, though primarily instrumental, jazz bands.
The original founding members of the band in 1980 were: bassist Abraham Laboriel, Weather Report veteran Alex Acuña on drums and percussion, wind player John Phillips, noted session-guitarist Dean Parks, and three members of Andraé Crouch's band, drummer/percussionist Bill Maxwell, guitarist Hadley Hockensmith, and Harlan Rogers on keyboards. In 1981 the saxophone/clarinet and flute virtuoso Justo Almario replaced John Phillips. Dean Parks also left at that time, because he preferred not to travel. Chester Thompson joined one tour in Europe in 1987, replacing Alex Acuña, but Thompson was never an official member of the band. In 1988, Lou Pardini joined the band on keyboards and vocals. Koinonia disbanded in 1991.
Each member has gone on to be successful individual and/or studio and session musicians working with many giants of the music industry. Hockensmith has been Neil Diamond’s guitarist for 25 years. Parks, best known for his contributions with Steely Dan and Michael Jackson, is still one of the top studio guitarists in Los Angeles. Acuña is one of the major LA studio film percussionists and tours with his own band. Rogers was part of Ricky Skaggs's band for six years. Lou Pardini has recorded several of his own albums, composing a Grammy-award winning song for Smokey Robinson; he joined the band Chicago in 2009. John Phillips has been out of contact.
As of 2014 Abraham Laboriel, Justo Almario, Bill Maxwell, with the addition of long-time arranger/composer/sessionman, Greg Mathieson, make up the jazz-fusion quartet known as Open Hands, based in Los Angeles.
Koinonia's albums include:
- 1982: More than a Feelin'
- 1984: Celebration (Live)
- 1986: Frontline
- 1989: Koinonia
- 1989: Compact Favorites (collection)
- 1992: Pilgrim’s Progression – Best of Koinonia (compilation)
- 2005: Celebrate in Gothenburg (DVD of live concert in 1983)
- 2010: All The Best (compilation of 4 CDs and 2 DVDs)