Richard Bona

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Richard Bona
Richard Bona in 2009.jpg
Bona performing in 2009
Background information
Birth nameBona Pinder Yayumayalolo
Born (1967-10-28) 28 October 1967 (age 51)
Minta, Cameroon
GenresJazz fusion, world fusion, ethno jazz, Funk
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
InstrumentsBass, Guitar
LabelsUniversal, Columbia, Sony, Verve, GRP
Associated actsPat Metheny Group, Zawinul Syndicate, Mike Stern

Richard Bona (born 28 October 1967 in Minta, Cameroon) is a virtuoso Cameroonian Grammy Award-winning[1] jazz bassist.[2]

Early life[edit]

Bona Pinder Yayumayalolo[3] was born in Minta, Cameroon, into a family of musicians, which enabled him to start learning music from a young age. His grandfather was a griot – a West African singer of praise and storyteller – and percussionist, as his mother was a singer. When he was four years old, Bona started to play the balafon. At the age of five, he began performing at his village church. Not being wealthy, Bona made many of his own instruments: including flutes and guitars (with cords strung over an old motorcycle tank).[4]

His talent was quickly noticed, and he was often invited to perform at festivals and ceremonies. Bona began learning to play the guitar at the age of 11, and in 1980, aged just 13, he assembled his first ensemble for a French jazz club in Douala.[5] The owner befriended him and helped him discover jazz music, in particular that of Jaco Pastorius, which inspired Bona to switch his focus to the electric bass.[6]


Bona performing at Sochi Jazz Festival in Russia, August 2016

Bona emigrated to Germany at the age of 22 to study music in Düsseldorf,[5] soon relocating to France, where he furthered his studies in music.

While in France, he regularly played in various jazz clubs, sometimes with players such as Manu Dibango, Salif Keita, Jacques Higelin and Didier Lockwood.

In 1995, Bona left France and established himself in New York, where he still lives and works. In New York he played bass guitar with artists including Joe Zawinul, Larry Coryell, Michael and Randy Brecker, Mike Stern, George Benson, Branford Marsalis, Chaka Khan, Bobby McFerrin, and Steve Gadd.

In 1998, Bona was the Musical Director on Harry Belafonte's European Tour.

His debut solo album, Scenes from My Life, was released in 1999. He has also been prominently featured in Jaco Pastorius Big Band albums, as well as many other albums by various top-tier jazz musicians.

In 2002 Bona went on a world tour with the Pat Metheny Group. The release of the successful Speaking of Now album that year had marked a profound change in the group's direction by adding younger musicians to the band, notably with Bona as bassist, vocalist, guitarist and percussionist, along with drummer Antonio Sánchez and trumpet player Cuong Vu.

In 2005 Bona released his fourth solo album Tiki, which included a collaboration with John Legend on one track, entitled "Please Don't Stop." The album was nominated for Best Contemporary World Music Album at the 49th Grammy Awards.

He held a professorship of jazz music at New York University.[7]

In 2015, with restaurateur Laurent D'antonio, he opened Club Bonafide.

Richard Bona's music took on a distinctive Afro-Cuban flavor with the 2016 release of the Heritage album with Cuban band Mandekan Cubano. The album was released under Quincy Jones' Qwest label.


Richard Bona, 3 August 2006

Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications


Scenes from My Life
  • Released: 7 September 2001
  • Label: Columbia Jazz
Munia 90
Toto Bona Lokua
(with Gerald Toto and Lokua Kanza)
  • Released: 2 October 2005
  • Label: Universal Music France
118 81 41 10
The Ten Shades of Blues
  • Released: 19 October 2009
  • Label: Universal Jazz France
116 49
  • Released: 22 April 2013
  • Label: Universal Jazz France
159 162 33
(with Mandekan Cubano)
  • Released: June 2016
  • Label: Qwest Records
"—" denotes a release that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Live albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions
Bona Makes You Sweat
  • Released: 7 March 2008
  • Label: Universal Jazz France

Extended plays[edit]

Title Album details
Kaze ga Kureta Melody
  • Released: 2000[15]
  • Label: Columbia Jazz

As guest artist[edit]


Album Year Main Artist
My People 1996 Joe Zawinul
An Evening with Harry Belafonte and Friends 1997 Harry Belafonte
Art & Soul 1999 Renee Rosnes
Voices 2001 Mike Stern
Faces & Places 2002 Joe Zawinul
Beyond Words 2002 Bobby McFerrin
Speaking of Now 2002 Pat Metheny Group
Rhizome 2004 Mario Canonge
Live in Montreal 2005 Bobby McFerrin
The Way Up 2005 Pat Metheny Group
Who Let the Cats Out? 2006 Mike Stern
Smoke 'n' Mirrors 2006 Lee Ritenour
Moyo 2007 Keiko Matsui
Kosmo 2009 Maria Markesini
Mwaliko 2010 Lionel Loueke
All Over the Place 2012 Mike Stern
Tocororo 2016 Alfredo Rodríguez
Sedar 2016 Sedar Qin
Dos Partes de Mí 2016 Antonio Rey
Coffee Break 2018 Jonah Nilsson & LUCAS


  1. ^ "Richard Bona on".
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Musician Richard Bona will perform in five Polish cities".
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b "Biography: Richard Bona". RFI music. October 2010. Archived from the original on 9 June 2010. Retrieved 9 November 2010.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Jazz Faculty: Richard Bona". New York University. Archived from the original on 5 July 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  8. ^ " – Discographie Richard Bona" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
  9. ^ a b " – Discographie Richard Bona" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  10. ^ " – Discografie Richard Bona" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  11. ^ Peak chart positions in Poland:
  12. ^ "Richard Bona | Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  13. ^ "Gold certification awards". Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry. Archived from the original on 3 June 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  14. ^ "Le Top de la semaine : Top Albums Fusionnes - SNEP (Week 26, 2016)" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  15. ^ "Kaze ga Kureta Melody". Archived from the original on 22 September 2012. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  16. ^ "Richard Bona – Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 November 2013.

External links[edit]