A Rhythm Planet Summer Solstice Playlist

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One of my favorite words in the English language is the verb “estivate,” which means to pass the summer in a state of torpor. It’s a term often applied to fish, amphibians, and insects, though it seems equally applicable to humans as well. Now with summer officially here and temperatures climbing, it seems only fitting that we do just that. Sound familiar? If so, I’ve put together a Spotify playlist in honor of the summer solstice—the longest day of the year—for those of us that estivate.

We ease into the spirit of summer with two versions of Ira Gershwin’s classic “Summertime.” First up is Miles Davis, accompanied by Gil Evans’ big band arrangement, followed by Benin-born African superstar Angélique Kidjo singing “Summertime” in her native Fon.


Brazilian musical giant Roberto Menescal is next with his cover of Marcos Valle’sSamba de Verão.” Also in the mix is João Gilberto’s gorgeous version of Italian composer Bruno Martino’s 1960s classic, “Estate,” which translates to mean “summer.” It’s a lovely arrangement conducted by the late Claus Ogerman.

Then we turn up the heat with mambo king Eddie Palmieri’sRitmo Caliente (Pachanga),” and keep things hot with legendary bass virtuoso Cachao y Su Ritmo Caliente and his famous song, “Descarga Cubana.” In case you didn’t know, Israel “Cachao” Lopez is credited with having invented the mambo.


The late Trinidadian Alphonsus Cassell, known as simply “Arrow,” comes next. His 1980s smash hit, “Hot Hot Hot,” burned the dance floors of Trindidad and Tobago and everywhere else for that matter. We keep things Caribbean with “96 Degrees in the Shade” by Jamaican reggae band Third World.


To cool things down, we switch gears to American jazz expat Sahib Shihab, who moved to Brussels in 1960s. We hear a song from the flautist off his Argo album, Summer Dawn. Next we have “Something Cool,” a wonderful little piece by the late June Christy, accompanied by the Pete Rugolo Orchestra. And finally, we close out our summer solstice playlist with the Beach Boys’ California classic, “Warmth of the Sun.”

Summer has finally arrived, so keep cool and estivate!!!