April Concert Picks from Rhythm Planet

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Saturday, April 6 | Mariza | UCLA Royce Hall (Westwood)

I first heard the fado singer Mariza at Womex in Rotterdam before she became famous. I immediately recognized her star quality and noticed how she channeled the spirit of the iconic Amália Rodrigues. I worked to bring her to the Hollywood Bowl for her debut show years ago. She performed several times since at Walt Disney Concert Hall and earned the admiration of Frank Gehry and Esa-Pekka Salonen among others. It’s been a while since Mariza last worked her musical magic in Los Angeles, and fado fans should definitely turn out for this UCLA show. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

As you can see in the concert video below, Mariza is powerful, incredibly stylish, and totally committed to this uniquely Portuguese song form.

Sunday, April 7 | Ranky Tanky | The Broad Stage (Santa Monica)

The folk group Ranky Tanky from Charleston, South Carolina specializes in the historic and unique Gullah music of South Carolina and the Georgia Sea Islands. The music, both sad and joyous, goes back to the days of slavery. Indeed, listening to it is like a trip back in time. The musicians are fantastic, and you would have to be dead not to thrill to the vocals of singer Quiana Parler. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Friday, April 12 | Rachel Flowers and Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra | Wilshire Ebell Theater (Mid-City)

When I met and interviewed Rachel Flowers, I was immensely taken by her musical talent and amazed by her story. Born 15 weeks premature and weighing only 1.5 pounds, she started life frail and blind. But she overcame everything in her path, excelling at composition, piano, rock guitar, flute, and every instrument she touches. This benefit show for and with the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra at the historic Wilshire Ebell Theater includes a screening of her film documentary and the premiere of her compositions “Organ Concerto #1” and “Other Voices.” When Flowers performed for our Rhythm Planet interview in June 2017, she started with Ahmad Jamal’s “Poinciana” and Herbie Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance.” I couldn’t help tearing up when she played her original song “Greg’s Favorite” that day. Rachel Flowers is one of a kind and no wonder the documentary about her is called Hearing is BelievingI am a true believer! Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Saturday, April 20 | Kurt Rosenwinkel: Standards Trio | Jazz Bakery at the Moss Theater (Santa Monica)

Kurt Rosenwinkel stands at the top of the pyramid of jazz guitarists. His guitar playing is symphonic, lucid, and compelling. Listen to his breathtaking playing in the live recording below, and you’ll see what I mean. Click HERE for tickets and more information. 

Here’s “Chords” from Rosenwinkel’s album The Remedy – Live at the Village Vanguard:

Wednesday, April 24 | Mokoomba | Price Center, UC San Diego (San Diego)

One of Zimbabwe’s new generation of bands, Mokoomba blends traditional Tonga and Luvale rhythms with funk, soul, soukous, and other African pop styles. Following in the wake of Thomas Mapfumo, the Bhundu Boys, and the late Oliver Mtukudzi, they have become the hardest-working Zimbabwean band around, keeping Zimbabwean music alive and well. The group makes a stop in San Diego as part of their North American tour dates in April. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Above: Mokoomba (Photo: Eric van Nieuwland)

Check out this hypnotic and powerful song from the band:

Friday, April 26 | Christian McBride Big Band | The Soraya at CSUN (Northridge)

Philly-born bassist, composer, and NPR music host Christian McBride is one of the hippest, coolest jazz musicians on the planet. Aside from leading a small group and his big band, McBride appears as a sideman on over 300 recordings. This rare chance to see his big band, with hand-picked musicians who’ve made the grade, is an opportunity not to be missed. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Saturday, April 27 | Khaled and Andy | The Greek Theatre (Griffith Park) 

Khaled, the superstar of Algerian raï music, will share the Greek Theatre stage with Andy, known as the Bono of Persian music. Both artists have sold millions of records around the world. They’ll be joined by a number of guests in this benefit performance for VoicesOut.org and in celebration of Earth Day. Khaled has not performed in Los Angeles for a long time, while Andy, being Persian Armenian, will draw on our large Armenian and Iranian communities. I expect this show to be truly over the top! Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Here is a clip of Khaled in concert just last year:

Sunday, April 28 | Silkroad Ensemble: Heroes Take Their Stands | The Soraya at CSUN (Northridge)

Founded by cello superstar Yo-Yo Ma, the Silkroad Ensemble is as close you can get to hearing a United Nations orchestra, with players from Spain, Iran, Syria, China, and more. In this fractured world of political division and incessant squabbling, the Silkroad Ensemble proves once again that music brings different people together as one. This show at the Soraya celebrates the group’s 20thanniversary with a concert conceived by Persian musician Kayhan Kalhor and folklorist Ahmad Sadri. The completely new program includes a collaboration with pianist Jason Moran on a composition dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Above: Silkroad Ensemble (Photo: Max Whittaker)