New Tunes for the New Year

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San Francisco-based gypsy jazz/flamenco ensemble Barrio Manouche Photo courtesy of the artist

Time to ring in the new year with a new Rhythm Planet playlist of recent releases in a variety of musical styles. To begin, we hear three classical pieces, but two come with a twist. First is a new solo violin sonata of J.S. Bach, then a piece by Debussy as arranged by a Japanese marimba player, ending with a jazzy marimba-cello Bach duet from the Canadian duo Stick&Bow. Their album is called Resonance.

We segue into a new, never-issued song by the late Hugh Masekela, recorded years ago in Lesotho, South Africa. Then we hear one from the latest album by Hungarian jazz singer Rozina Pátkai before sampling from two glorious box sets of audiophile magic of the music of Chet Baker and Miles Davis, produced by the Craft Recordings label. More jazz follows, with a Blue Note audiophile vinyl reissue of Tina Brooks classic album Minor Move from the label’s Tone Poet series. Next comes a great young tenor player, Roxy Coss, with her song “Females Are Strong As Hell.”

We travel to Morocco with gnawa trance music from the debut release of the all-female group Bnat Timbouktou (Daughters of Timbuktu) led by the young Asmâa Hamzaoui. We then hear a nice cut called “Guava” from Dub Mentor’s album A Slow Hot Wind.

A classic Portuguese fado is done anew courtesy of singer Maria Mendes, with arrangements by pianist and Monk-o-phile John Beasley. We stay in the Lusophone music universe with the next track by Brazilian guitarist Toquinho, originally written for him by Brazilian poet Vinicius de Moraes in the 1960’s. Toquinho became famous early through his association with de Moraes.

The Canadian group Duo Kalysta—aka flutist Lara Deutsch and harpist Emily Belvederepresents a Debussy classic on, what else, flute and harp. We hear the encore track “Somewhere Over the Rainbowfrom a new Keith Jarrett live album, Munich 2016, before moving on to something completely different with El Wali’s “Youth of the Nation,” from a reissue of an obscure 1994 album called Tiris. El Wali’s music is a combustible mix of desert jams with contemporary production and a nationalist (Western Sahara) bent. We make another u-turn after that and listen to vibraphonist Lolly Allen’s rendition of the classic ballad “Emily.”

In the final three cuts, we feature the energetic San Francisco manouche (gypsy jazz)/flamenco ensemble Barrio Manouche, after which we wrap it up with two singles that have been getting spins on KCRW—Wajatta’s Don’t Let Get You Downand DJ Skif’s remix of Bu.Di’s song Indigo.” Happy listening and happy new year!

Rhythm Planet Playlist for January 1, 2020

  1. Thomas Zehetmair | “J.S. Bach: Sonata for Violin Solo No. 1 in G Minor, 1. Adagio” | ECM New Series
  2. Mika Takehara | “Dr. Gradus ad Parnassum” | Ajabu!
  3. Stick&Bow | “Prelude in D Major from the Well-Tempered Clavier” | Leaf Music
  4. Hugh Masekela | “Stimela” | Matsuli Music Limited
  5. Rozina Pátkai | “O Leãozinho” | Tom-Tom Records
  6. Chet Baker | “Almost Like Being in Love” | Craft Recordings
  7. Miles Davis | “Well You Needn’t” | Craft Recordings
  8. Tina Brooks | “Star Eyes” | Blue Note
  9. Roxy Coss | “Females Are Strong As Hell” | Outside in Music
  10. Asmâa Hamzaoui and Bnat Timbouktou | “Bala Yourki” | Ajabu!
  11. Dub Mentor | “Guava” | EnT-T
  12. Maria Mendes feat. John Beasley & Metropole Orkest | “Barco Negro” | Justin Time Records
  13. Toquinho, Ophélie Gaillard, and Gabriel Sivak | “Samba de Bençao, Samba pra Vinicius” | Aparté
  14. Duo Kalysta | “Debussy: Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune” | Leaf Music
  15. Keith Jarrett | “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” | ECM Records
  16. El Wali | “Youth of the Nation” | Sahel Sounds
  17. Lolly Allen | “Emily” | OA2 Records
  18. Barrio Manouche | “El Joven” | doubleOone
  19. Wajatta | “Don’t Let Get You Down” | Brainfeeder
  20. Bu.Di, DJ Skif | “Indigo” | Highway Records