Grammy Award-winning sax player Charles Neville (The Neville Brothers) and kora player Youssoupha Sidibe combine the sounds of New Orleans and West Africa on a new recording project, "Tree of Life."

Grammy Award-winning sax player Charles Neville (The Neville Brothers) and kora player Youssoupha Sidibe combine the sounds of New Orleans and West Africa on a new recording project, "Tree of Life." The album was released this week on Secret Sound Records.

Neville and Sidibe perform at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17, at CultureWorks, 310 Oak St., Ashland. Other shows to promote "Tree of Life" are set for Northern California at the Coda Jazz Club and The Mystic Theatre in the San Francisco Bay Area, Big Sur Spirit Garden and Moe's Alley in Santa Cruz. Neville and Sidibe also will perform at the Mt. Tabor Theater in Portland and the WOW Hall in Eugene.

When Neville met Sidibe, the two began to experiment with melodies from Sidibe's homeland of Senegal.

"The sax and the kora blend in a good way," Neville says. "We listened to those beautiful melodies on the kora and looked for sax movements that would fit them. We liked what we heard and wound up recording it."

Growing up in New Orleans, Neville always was exposed to music, along with his brothers Aaron, Art and Cyril Neville. The Neville Brothers formed in 1977, soon after getting together to be part The Wild Tchoupitaoulas, an African-American carnival group led by their uncle. The album is still available at Amazon. The Neville Brothers' debut album was released in 1978 on Capitol Records.

A stint in the U.S. Navy found Charles Neville based in Memphis, Tenn.

"I was disappointed with Memphis until I discovered Beale Street," Neville says. "I got to play with a lot of cool bands there." He's performed with music legends Ray Charles, James Brown, B.B. King, Santana, The Grateful Dead and Herbie Hancock, among many others. Neville even did a short stint in Eugene from 1986 to '89 with a band called Flambeaux.

On kora, Sidibe breaks away from the traditional music of West Africa and adds reggae and Western styles. His collaborations have included work with reggae musician Matisyahu, Michael Franti, Steve Kimock, Bela Fleck and others.

Neville and Sidibe will be joined by bassist Wendell Rand (Afrofunk Experience) and drummer Abou Diarra (The Wailers) for the show at CultureWorks.

"This tour is the first time we'll be performing our new music in front of live audiences," Neville says. "We think it will be unique. It's still a lot like jazz. Maybe with the drummer and bass player it will sound more like R&B."

Tickets for the show at CultureWorks cost $14 in advance, $17 the day of the show. Call 541-488-4888.