One of the U.K.’s most original guitarists, his playing first came to prominence in the Late ’80s with Jah Wobble’s Invaders of the Heart. Brought up the son of a Diplomat in The Middle East, his intuitive style brought together Arabic and African elements with new wave energy. He co-wrote 3 albums with Wobble including the Mercury Prize-nominated ‘Rising Above Bedlam’. When the Invaders of the Heart disbanded, he made an album for Peter Gabriel’s Real World label with Algerian singer Abdel Ali Slimani, co-wrote with Natacha Atlas and recorded and toured with Sinead O’Connor.
With drummer/producer John Reynolds and Classical cellist Caroline Dale he formed Ghostland, making an eponymous album and contributing to Jazmin Dizdar’s movie Beautiful People, set in Bosnia and London. In the late 90s, he met up with kindred spirits Lo’jo from Angers, France, a relationship which led to his producing 3 albums with them. While working with Lo’jo in Bamako, Mali, Justin met Tuareg musicians whose music struck a chord on a deep level. Lo’jo developed the connection which led to a recording trip to the Southern Sahara In late 1999, resulting in Tinariwen’s debut album ‘Radio Tisdas Sessions’ Justin also played at the first Festival of the Desert on this trip, performing songs from his recently released ‘Desert Road’ solo album.
Off the back of the ‘Desert Road’ album, he formed the ‘Wayward Sheikhs’ with longtime associate Salah Dawson Miller and ex- FYC/Beat guitarist Andy Cox. Among more conventional gigs, the Wayward Sheikhs played collaborative concerts with local musicians in Damascus, Syria and Tunis. His evocative guitar style has led to commissions for two feature films: ‘Kin’, set in the Namibian desert, and more recently ‘Deadline Beirut’ set in Civil War-torn Lebanon.
In 2004 he recorded and toured with Irish singer Damien Dempsey, as well as playing one-off collaborative concerts with Taj Mahal and Tinariwen, and, in the company of Robert Plant, with Alison Krauss and Los Lobos.
He started to work with Robert Plant in 2001. Together with Robert, Justin performed at the Festival of the Desert 2003, after which they began work with the Strange Sensation on the current album.
At the early age of fourteen, Mauro Durante began playing the frame drums and the violin in the Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino. In 2007, he followed his father’s footsteps and took over the leadership of the band. (His mother, Rossella Pinto, was also one of the members that founded the CGS and she was part of the band until the keys were handed to the new generation).
Transmitting knowledge and experience like the father, Daniele, did with his son reflects perfectly the tradition to pass things on from generation to generation. In 2010, the first Canzoniere album produced by Mauro, Focu d’amore, came out, followed soon after in 2012 by Pizzica Indiavolata.
He has been taking part in the Notte della Taranta since 2000, performing duets with prominent musicians from all over the world, including Stewart Copeland, Trilok Gurtu, Richard Galliano and Zohar Fresco, and he shared the stage with all the most important artists that participated in this huge concert over the years.
In the 2010-11 edition of the Notte della Taranta, he was named musical assistant of the “Maestro Concertatore” Ludovico Einaudi at just 26-years of age. He worked on the conception and artistic production of the show with the famous composer.
This brilliant pianist and composer had already noticed Mauro’s lively talent back in 2009, and made him play in his album “Nightbook”. He also asked for his collaboration in his last International tour (Europe, Asia and USA) as violinist and percussionist, which gave him the opportunity to perform in some of the most prestigious theaters around the world (like the Royal Albert Hall of London just to name one).
In 2012 he was the musical assistant of the new Maestro Concertatore of the NdT Goran Bregovic.
He has developed his musical education by playing in concerts and studying ethnic music, violin and frame drums at the musical conservatory. He learned the rudiments of the frame drum techniques from his father, the experts that played for the band through the years, from the old generation and by participating in the traditional evenings in which people gathered in a circle (ronda) playing the tamburo and danced in the middle. He kept studying in-depth the various pizzica techniques and became one of the leading figures.
He has been part of the important early music band Accordone, with which he took part in the main international festivals of early music (Europe, Middle East and Japan).
Besides, he can boast various collaboration with bands and musicians such as Piers Faccini, Ibrahim Maalouf, the Sud Sound System, Piers Faccini, Ballake Sissoko.
Nuovo Quotidiano di Puglia (2010) –
Mauro, to put it bluntly, “had no choice”. Not only because his father put him on the stage when he was a little child alongside some of the best international musicians invited in Salento, but mostly because he soon realized blood and music were flowing through his veins. Being a musician was just inevitable.