This week, I showcase some choice new releases, as well a few classics. It's a mixed bag, a variety show.
Let's get things started with Alison Balsom, an British classical trumpet player who has performed with many of the world's leading orchestras. She was most recently invited to play the iTunes Festival in London, and has been making headlines as an up-and-coming talent. There aren't that many female trumpet players out there, so it's great to see fresh, young talent on the scene. She plays a breathtaking rendition of Erik Satie's sublime Gymnopédie No. 3.
Paul Yonemura is a Bay Area drummer, who collaborated with pianists, Rick Helzer, Frank Martin, and Michael Wolff, on his new jazz album, Reunion Trios. After that, a cut from Brazilian-borne—but now LA-based—seven-string guitarist, Fabiano do Nascimento, whose soon-to-be-released folkloric Brazilian/Afro-Brazilian-inspired album, Dança dos Tempos, features legendary drummer and percussionist, Airto Moreira.
Then we have tracks from vibrant Ivorian singer Dobet Gnahoré's new album, Na Dre, and Malian griot legend, Kassé Mady Diabaté's Kiriké (also available on audiophile analog vinyl), backed by Makan Badjé Tounkara on ngoni, Lasiné Kouyaté on balafon, kora maestro Ballaké Sissoko, and Vincent Ségal on cello.
Next, I feature two American composers, Peter Boyer and Jack Gallagher. Their work embodies the same optimistic 20th century symphonic spirit evinced by the music of John Williams and the late Aaron Copland. Have a listen to their new releases on Naxos' American Classics label and let me know if you agree.
Young composer and piano virtuoso Justin Kauflin follows with Dedication, produced by Quincy Jones, whom he met through their mutual mentor, the 94-year-old trumpet legend, Clark Terry. This 12-track album is a gorgeous tribute to those who have inspired and influenced him, among them the late jazz pianist Mulgrew Miller, drummer Billy Williams, and drummer Jae Sinnett. Kauflin, who lost his vision due to a congenital disorder at the age of 11, will tour his new album this year and has said, "I'm really excited to share this music live, in concert. That's when it'll really come to life. Now this whole year, I'll get to dedicate performances to all these people I love. It will make touring that much easier [because] I'll get to say thank you every night."
Then we have the late, great George Shearing, who was also blind, with his stunning version of the 1946 ballad, "Tenderly," by composer Walter Gross and lyricist Jack Lawrence. Listen closely and you'll hear Shearing masterfully interlace his version of "Tenderly" with musical quotes from Sergei Rachmaninov's magisterial Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 27.
Finally, we wrap this week's show with two early classics from 1960: Brazilian bossa nova singer Alaíde Costa's stunning "Afinal" and a cut from Cachao López and Julio Gutiérrez, doing a descarga—Cuban for an improvised jam session.
Rhythm Planet Playlist: 01/23/15
- Alison Balsom / Gymnopédie No. 3 / Paris / Warner Classics
- Paul Yonemura / "Monterey Peninsula" / Reunion Trios / Girod Records
- Fabiano do Nascimento / "Ewe" / Dança dos Tempos / Now Again
- Dobet Gnahoré / "Awili" / Na Dre / Contre-Jour
- Kassé Mady Diabaté / "Ko Kuma Magni" / Kiriké / Six Degrees
- Peter Boyer / "Three Olympians: I. Apollo" / Symphony No. 1, Silver Fanfare, Three Olympians, Celebration Overture / American Classics
- Jack Gallagher / "Berceuse" / Orchestral Music / American Classics
- Justin Kauflin / "Lasting Impression" / Dedication / Jazz Village
- George Shearing / "Tenderly" / The Shearing Piano / Blue Note Records
- Alaíde Costa / "Afinal" / Afinal / Ubataqui
- Cachao & Julio Gutiérrez / "Trombon Criollo" / Cuban Jam Sessions, Vol. 2 / Musart - Balboa