May Melomania

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Cuban legends Candido & Graciela recorded their 2004 album Inolvidable when they were 82 and 88, respectively

This week, Rhythm Planet whips up our usual recipe – a mix of new and older releases across a range of musical styles. The playlist begins with Norwegian pianist and composer Ola Gjeilo, from a gorgeous new album called Night—so named as he composed the music at night while looking out over the New York City skyline. I find the entire album perfect for pandemic listening; it’s soothing and beautiful but never sappy or sentimental.

Canadian violinist Angèle Dubeau has arranged quite a few works by contemporary composers that I like a lot. We listen to her arrangement of a Ludovico Einaudi piece. Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds has a stunning new choral album that I’ve really enjoyed. The two sopranos—Kate Ledington and Maeve Stier—alternate solos with stratospheric high notes. The gorgeous music comes from St. Thomas Aquinas, a 13th century Italian Dominican priest and composer. The sound reminds me a bit of Eric Whitacre, one of my favorite choral composers. 

We hear a lovely track from the L.A.-based Brendan Eder Ensemble. Eder produces, composes film scores, and leads this crossover classical chamber group. I love arrangers and arranging, so I’ve included it. We follow that with a spare and lyrical piece from trumpeter Volker Goetze, from his duo album Silent Thunder.

I love pianist Laurence Hobgood, whom I first heard with Kurt Elling’s group. Abetted by a string quartet, we hear his treatment of Glen Campbell’s beautiful song “Wichita Lineman.” The playlist also features jazz tracks from pianist Mike Bond, trumpeter Thomas Marriott, the group New Stories, guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel, drummer Paul Shaw, and vibraphonist Christian Tamburr. Croatian-American singer Thana Alexa sings “Set Free,” from her powerful new album Ona ("She” in Croatian), an apropos title for an album that explores the female identity. Finally, we hear from up-and-coming saxophonist Alexa Tarantino, who performs as part of the collective Works for Me.

To provide some comfort during our house arrest, I dug up a classic from Massive Attack called “Protection” that features singer Tracey Thorn. I believe KCRW debuted Massive Attack on L.A. radio way back in the day.

Bassist Henry Grimes sadly just died from Covid-19. Juilliard-trained, he worked with top artists like McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins, and Roy Haynes, before quitting the scene and disappearing for over 20 years. Somebody discovered him in Los Angeles, where he worked as a janitor. We hear him with Sonny Rollins on a recording of the wonderful 1959 Stockholm concert. I love this vinyl album and fortunately you can still find it on resale sites.

I am absolutely in love with Brazilian singer Roberta Sá, so I had to feature “Meu Novo Ilê” from her 2015 album Delírio. Doesn’t it have a surprising Cape Verdean feel? Sá was born in 1980 in the northeastern city of Natal, in the state of Rio Grande do Norte. Continuing in the world music vein, I’ve included a trio of tropical Latin tracks on the playlist. First, a smoking one from conga master Cándido Camero with singer Graciela; one from the late bassist Andy González; plus a new album by the Calle Loíza Jazz Project.

Rhythm Planet Playlist for May 5, 2020

  1. Ola Gjeilo / “Still” / Decca Music Group
  2. Laurence Hobgood / “Wichita Lineman” / Ubuntu Music
  3. Angèle Dubeau / “Night” / Groupe Analekta
  4. Ēriks Ešenvalds, Portland Statue University Chamber Choir, Ethan Sperry / “O salutaris hostia” / Naxos
  5. Brendan Eder Ensemble / “Pastorale” / Brendan Eder Ensemble
  6. Volker Goetze / “Silent Thunder” / Weitblick Media LLC
  7. Mike Bond / “Polarized Child” / Bounce Castle Records
  8. Roberta Sá / “Meu Novo Ilê” / Som Livre
  9. Massive Attack feat. Tracey Thorn / “Protection” / Circa
  10. Christian Tamburr / “Day Dream” / Christian Tamburr
  11. Andy González / “Inspiración de Cachao” / Truth Revolution Records
  12. Cándido & Graciela / “Conga Jam” / Chesky Records
  13. Calle Loíza Jazz Project / “Old Folks” / Goose Mountain Properties LLC
  14. Thana Alexa / “Set Free” / Thana Alexa
  15. Thomas Marriott / “Trumpet Ship” / Origin Records
  16. Wolfgang Muthspiel, Scott Colley, Brian Blade / “Everything I Love” / ECM Records
  17. Sonny Rollins Trio / “How High the Moon” / Dragon Records
  18. Works for Me / “Mr. M” / Posi-Tone Records
  19. New Stories / “So Near, So Far” / Origin Records
  20. Paul Shaw Quintet / “Heartland” / Summit Records