Mario Canonge is a pianist from Martinique. He started playing in his teen years and accompanied the church choir at Francois Church in Martinique. In 1979, he started studying music in Paris and was a part of several bands. In the early 80s, he mainly played Latin music, notably with Manigua, before forming a jazz-rock-fusion band along with Nguyen Lê, Ultramarine. Very much inspired by the two most famous Caribbean pianists, Marius Cultier and Alain Jean-Marie, Canonge quickly won recognition for his talent and became well-sought after. He has played with the likes of Lavelle, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Nicole Croisille, Ralph Thamar, as well as Carter Jefferson, Chico, Freeman, Turk Mauro, Simon Spang-Hanssen.
He also formed Sakiyo with Michel Alibo and started a solo career with “Retour aux sources” in 1991. It is a turning point in his career which led him to go back to his roots and its music – mazurka and beguine – mixed with jazz and zouk. He performs quite frequently with his group, Kann, and for several years, the quartet has played overseas as Mario keeps on playing with other artists such as Kassav and Malavoi.
In 2002, Mario created Sakésho with Andy Narell, Michel Alibo and Jean-Philippe Fanfant. The group released two CDs and a DVD and performed at many festivals. When he is not on the road, he enjoys playing with his old friend Etienne Mbappé, as well as Richard Bona, Gino Sitson, and Manu Dibango whose African influences keep on broadening his already wide spectrum.
In 2004, he revealed new inspiration with a jazzy yet Caribbean sound on his latest album, Rhizome. In 2008, Mario released a live album with Linley Marthe and Chander Sardjoe and continues to work with Rhizome on many tours.
In 2011, Mario Canonge released “Mitan”, a jazz album welcomed by the critics. At that point, “Mitan” was not only the title of his album; it was the “half-time” of his life. “The beginning of a new adventure, led by a desire to look forward, to grow and always evolve, a desire to reach and, with my own fingers, lightly touch the essence.” During the course of the summer, Mario and Michel Zenino played at Jazz à Porquerolles where the concert was filmed and serves as the base of a DVD released early in 2013.
By the end of the year, Mario played on Dominican guitarist Cameron Pierre’s album, “Radio Jumbo”. He then meets Courtney Pine who invited him to play on “House of Legends” which was released late in 2012. This period also sees the birth of a new promising trio, CAB, with Blick Bassy, a Cameroonian singer, and Adriano Tenorio DD, a young Brazilian percussionist.