When you’re a DJ, one of the questions you get asked most often is: “What are YOU listening to right now?” So this week on Rhythm Planet, I answer the question and share my own personal playlist. It’s a mix of several cuts from around the world, as well as some special new releases that have just stuck with me.
We begin with Cristina Pato, a gaita (Galician bagpiper or the instrument itself) from Ourense, Spain. This is Spanish celtic music, a regional, folkloric idiom far removed from flamenco. Her clever “Tarantella-Muiñeira: Epilogue” opens the Latina 6/8 Suite, in her exploration of the word, Latina, and its ever-present application, as set to the ubiquitous 6/8 rhythm. We’ll backend that with a cut by Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi from his most adventurous album so far, Taranta Project. You’ll hear traditional Arabic instruments and a strong modal groove—a departure from the solo piano work he’s become known for.
Continuing in this mode, we have Algerian singer Souad Massi’s tribute to the great Arabic poets with her latest album, El Mutakallimûn, which translates to mean ‘Masters of the Word.’ This particular song, “Ayna,” is by the exiled Iraqi poet, Ahmed Matar.
In case you missed them this week on Morning Becomes Eclectic, Swedish-Malawian group The Very Best performed live in studio at KCRW. The group has a strong South African vocal feel (Malawi is a landlocked African nation situated between Mozambique and Zambia). They’re a really fun group to watch, so be sure to check out the video clip here.
Bolo come next. They’re a San Francisco-based trio who play traditional African music with an assortment of acoustic instruments like the kora, percussive calabashes, kamale ngoni (harp), kalimba (thumb piano), etc. Their self-titled album cover art threw me because they look more like a Balkan gypsy band than one celebrating traditional African music. It came as a wonderful surprise.
After that, let’s listen to a delightful new album out by the New West Guitar Group, featuring Becca Stevens, a singer I really like. Becca has done a few indie-type albums, but she really excels at singing with jazz groups such as pianist Taylor Eigsti, Billy Childs, and others. The new Send One Your Love album also features vocals by Gretchen Parlato, along with a lovely version of James Taylor’s “Secret O’life.” The Greg Foat Group follows, with a song called “The Door into Summer.”
We then detour slightly and conclude with a trio of lusophone love songs. First, it’s fado singer Cristina Branco’s version of Chico Buarque’s “O Meu Amor,” which translates to “Oh My Love.” Then, the late Latin jazz percussionist, Willie Bobo, covers Carlos Antônio Jobim’s classic love song, “Dindi,” which Bobo’s son discovered in a closet on a reel-to-reel of unissued songs after his father’s passing. And finally, Portuguese singer Filipa Pais will conclude our Rhythm Planet show this week with a lilting love song, titled, “Se Me Desta Terra for Vos Levarei Amor,” which I just can’t seem to get out of my head, not that I mind, of course. See what you think!