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Richard Bona

Richard Bona

Cameroon-American jazz bassist and musician
The basics
Occupations Jazz musician Musician Singer
Countries Cameroon
A.K.A. Bona
Gender male
Birth October 28, 1967 (Minta, Cameroon)
Authority IMDB id Discogs id Library of congress id VIAF id ISNI id Musicbrainz id
Richard Bona
The details

Richard Bona (born 28 October 1967 in Minta, Cameroon) is an Cameroonian Grammy Award-winning jazz bassist.

Early life

Bona Pinder Yayumayalolo 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, and 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).

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. 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.


Bona performing at Sochi Jazz Festival in Russia, August 2016

Bona emigrated to Germany at the age of 22 to study music in Düsseldorf, 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 Sanchez 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.

In 2015, with restaurateur Laurent Dantonioin, 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

Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
Scenes from My Life
  • Released: 20 July 1999
  • Label: Columbia Jazz
  • Released: 7 September 2001
  • Label: Columbia Jazz
  • Released: 22 September 2003
  • Label: Universal Music France
Toto Bona Lokua
(with Gerald Toto and Lokua Kanza)
  • Released: 20 April 2004
  • Label: No Format!
  • 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
  • ZPAV: Gold
(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

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

Extended plays

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

As guest artist

Album Year Main Artist
An Evening with Harry Belafonte and Friends 1997 Harry Belafonte
Voices 2001 Mike Stern
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
Dos Partes de Mí 2016 Antonio Rey
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