New Music, Rediscoveries, Remembrances

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Les Amazones d’Afrique Photo by Karen Biswell

Rhythm Planet showcases mostly new releases in our playlist this week, together with some rediscoveries and remembrances along the way. On the jazz front, we hear the music of saxophonists Eric Alexander, Wayne Shorter (by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra), and Brent Jensen; plus pianists Tim Ray, Joey Alexander, and Laurence Hobgood, the latter with a lovely string-quartet version of Glen Campbell’s classic song “Witchita Lineman.” Vibraphonist Chris Dingman’s new album is called Embrace, and we listen to “Inner Child” from it.

World music releases this week come from São Tomé & Príncipe, Portugal, South Africa, and Israel. We also check out classic tropical Latin music from Manny Oquendo, who plays Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower.” The track features a great flute solo from the late Dave Valentin. Calle Loíza Jazz Project covers the ballad “Old Folks,” while French jazz guitarist Stephane Wrembel offers his version of a classic Django Reinhardt manouche (French gypsy swing) guitar song. Although not a new release (it’s new to me), I also simply had to include an 11 minute track from Moroccan oud master Driss El Maloumi. I really enjoyed his concert with 3MA at the Getty Center a few weeks ago. 

Kudos to Impex Records on a fantastic reissue of an album that has always been special to many people—Friday Night in San Francisco. The music comes from a trifecta of incredible guitarists: Al Di Meola, the late flamenco maestro Paco de Lucía, and the one-and-only John McLaughlin. Pressed on 180g vinyl, the double LP set is superbly remastered. Impex Records is one of the best audiophile labels around. If you liked the original recording from 1981, you must check out this new edition.

We include some remembrances among the new releases as well. First, Italian soprano Mirella Freni sings a heart-rending aria from Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. She passed away earlier this month at the age of 84. We also listen to a sweet track from the late Joseph Shabalala’s group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, plus something to remember pianist and keyboard wizard Lyle Mays, who made the Pat Metheny Group so wonderful. Mays passed away in Los Angeles at the age of 66 a few weeks ago.

Rhythm Planet Playlist for 2/25/20:

  1. Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra & Wynton Marsalis / “Yes or No” by Wayne Shorter / Blue Engine Records
  2. Eric Alexander / “Slow, Hot Wind” / HighNote Records
  3. Tim Ray, Terri Lyne Carrington, John Patitucci / “Maria” from West Side Story / Whaling City Sound
  4. Mirella Freni & Vienna Philharmonic / “Un bel di vedremo” / Decca Music Group
  5. Sheku Kanneh-Mason & London Symphony Orchestra / “Blow the Wind Southerly” / Decca Music Group
  6. Noa (featuring Gil Dor) / “The Race” / Naive
  7. Les Amazones d’Afrique / “Power” / Real World Records
  8. Bokanté + Metropole Orkest / “Lè An Gadé-w En Zyé” / Real World Records
  9. Driss El Maloumi / “Safar”/ Contrejour
  10. Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, Paco de Lucia / “Mediterranean Sundance” / Impex Records
  11. Matthew Halsall / “Together” / Gondwana Records
  12. Stéphane Wrembel / “Improvisation 5 (11/28/1947 – Paris)” / Arte Boreal Records
  13. Custódio Castelo / “Ai Mouraria” / ARC
  14. Sum Alvarinho / “M’konveta dedo” / Bongo Joe
  15. Calle LoÍza Jazz Project / “Old Folks” / Goose Mountain Properties
  16. Chris Dingman / “Inner Child” / Inner Arts
  17. Harmonie Ensemble/New York / “Music for Peter Gunn: Dreamsville” / Harmonia Mundi
  18. Brent Jensen / “Tangerine” / Origin Records
  19. Manny Oquendo / “Little Sunflower” / Montuno Records
  20. Lyle Mayes / “Bill Evans” / Warner Jazz
  21. Laurence Hobgood / “Wichita Lineman” / Ubuntu Music
  22. Ladysmith Black Mambazo / “Hello My Baby” / Warner Records
  23. Joey Alexander / “Inner Urge” / Verve
  24. Trilok Gurtu / “Samadhan” / Jazzline