Richard Bona (born 28 October 1967 in Minta, Cameroon) is a virtuoso Cameroonian Grammy Award-winning jazz bassist.
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, 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).
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 emigrated to Germany at the age of 22 to study music in Düsseldorf, soon relocating to France, where he furthered his studies in music.
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.
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.
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions||Certifications|
|Scenes from My Life||
|Toto Bona Lokua
|The Ten Shades of Blues||
(with Mandekan Cubano)
|"—" denotes a release that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|Bona Makes You Sweat||
|Kaze ga Kureta Melody||
As guest artist
|My People||1996||Joe Zawinul|
|An Evening with Harry Belafonte and Friends||1997||Harry Belafonte|
|Art & Soul||1999||Renee Rosnes|
|Faces & Places||2002||Joe Zawinul|
|Beyond Words||2002||Bobby McFerrin|
|Speaking of Now||2002||Pat Metheny Group|
|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|
|All Over the Place||2012||Mike Stern|
|Dos Partes de Mí||2016||Antonio Rey|
|Coffee Break||2018||Jonah Nilsson & LUCAS|