Lorens Chuno’s latest album “Naija Rhythm Affair, NYC” scheduled for release August 2016, is the result of four years of observations, lyric writing, and composition. The singer-pianist-songwriter describes the album as a collection of music and lyrics that address contemporary issues from the perspective of a new generation African. The album consists of 10 original songs whose lyrics tackle a wide array of issues but yet remain a cohesive body of work due to Chuno’s signature bold compositions, catchy melodies, and warm dynamic vocals. “Come My Way” and “Do Not Call”, for instance, talk about opening up for the possibility of love and falling out of love respectively, while the Igbo lyric of “Nuru Onum” addresses the importance of dialogue within a community. The songwriter did not shy away from political and socially intense issues either. “Changing”, for instance, urges us to embrace globalization, and “Mr Sabi” pokes fun at how westerners, even when they have good intentions, do not care to understand Africa. “Wait” boldly takes on the issue of police brutality and the deep-seated racism in America. Musically, “Naija Rhythm Affair, NYC” is the product of a solid jazz foundation and features well commended New York based jazz talents including John Gray on bass, Michael Vitali on drums, David Liebman’s protégé, Michael Eaton on saxophone, and Lionel Loueke’s protégé, Albino Mbie on guitar.
Originally from Nigeria, Lorens Chuno (born Lawrence C. Udeigwe) moved to Pittsburgh, PA in 2000 for an undergraduate education at Duquesne University. Though a mathematics / computer science major, the singer performed and toured with the Duquesne University Chapel Choir, and other groups affiliated with the university’s school of music and campus ministry. Within this period, he also began to hone his song-writing and performance skills, giving solo coffee shop and library performances, while creating his own unique brand of West African jazz fusion.
After graduating from Duquesne University, Chuno considered several music-related career routes, which included moving to New York City to pursue musical theater, and enrolling in graduate school for music performance, but he ultimately settled for furthering his studies in mathematics, consequently obtaining an M.S in applied mathematics from the University of Delaware. He then returned to Pittsburgh in 2006 for his doctoral studies in applied mathematics at the University of Pittsburgh. He also enrolled for voice and jazz piano lessons at the Afro American Music Institute, under the tutelage of Dr. James Johnson and Howard Alexander. In 2008, Chuno formed his band. The band played several of the reputable venues in Pittsburgh, including Brillobox, Rex Theater, Mr Smalls, Club Café, Thunderbird café, Shadow Lounge, and festivals, such as the Three River Music Festival and the African Music Festival. Reviewers describe his sets as “energy-filled”, “captivating”, and “educative” and the diversity of his musical skill-set has been remarked: a Pittsburgh post-gazette writer once described him as “…a talented vocalist, pianist, percussionist, and dancer”. Having completed his studies at the University of Pittsburgh, Chuno relocated to New York City in 2014.
“Naija Rhythm Affair, NYC” is Lorens Chuno’s third studio album; the first two being “Highlife, Soul, and Ecstasy” released in 2008, and “My House” (formally named Funk Island) released in 2012. “Highlife Soul and Ecstasy”, a 10-track album, was a limited print release in the United States, and was later reduced to 5 tracks and re-released in digital form under the title “Egwu Oma EP”.
Lorens Chuno has shared stages with international acts like the Chicago Afrobeat Project, and the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars. He has worked with some legendary jazz musicians including drummers Poogie Bell and Roger Humphries, and pianists Howie Alexander and Marc Cary. He has also garnered a few international recognitions including appearances on the Nigerian Television Authority “Celebrity Corner” program and the African Independent Television (AIT) “Artist’s Notebook”.
As a well-trained mathematician, Lorens Chuno currently holds an assistant professorship (of Mathematics) at Manhattan College where he is listed as Lawrence C. Udeigwe, PhD.