Dave’s Discoveries – Week 2: ‘Tears of Joy’ by Niwel Tsumbu


Who’s the greatest living guitarist in the world? Eric Clapton? Mark Knopfler? John Williams?  Pat Metheny?  Eddie Van Halen?

None of the above! They are all excellent in their genres, but to be the best guitarist in the world you need to be ultra-versatile. I’ve seen many guitarists in my lifetime and none of them can match the versatility, virtuosity and musicianship of Niwel Tsumbu.

Niwel can literally play anything he puts his mind to and he’s just about the nicest person you could meet.  So why isn’t he world-famous? It’s a mystery to me!

That’s not to say Niwel isn’t very highly regarded by lots of people. He is well known among musicians in Ireland since moving there from his native DR Congo in 2004. He has worked with some world-famous people including Irish star Liam O’Maonlai (Hot House Flowers), minimalist composing legend Steve Reich and one of Africa’s greatest voices Baaba Maal. Yet he’s not a household name himself and that is very strange to me! 

I’m honoured to call Niwel a friend and to have worked with him many times including with Crash Ensemble and my ensembles The Irish Memory Orchestra and D.F.F. However my friendship with Niwel has no bearing on the fact that I think he’s the greatest living guitarist on the planet. That is based on the fact that I’ve never met or seen anyone who so thoroughly understands how to play the guitar in so many ways and to do that with passion, invention and musicality. 

Niwel Tsumbu is a genius that the world needs to hear!

His beautiful instrumental ‘Tears of Joy’ showcases this beautifully, however to understand the full range of his talents you need to listen to a lot of the music he has played. Better still, go see him live anytime you see his name!

Read more about Niwel here. – https://www.improvisedmusic.ie/artists/details/niwel-tsumbu
Follow him on Facebook here