Rhythm Planet Musical Potpourri

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This week we check out a mix of new releases as well as evergreens that I’ve enjoyed over the years. We start with the Cape Verdean star Lucibela, whose music is filled with the sweet spirit of morabeza that inhabits Cape Verde. I was fortunate to visit there a few years ago. Even though the legendary Cesária Évora is no longer with us, new stars like Lucibela offer proof that there is no musical void on the islands.

We also hear new music from Benin-born Angelique Kidjo with her tribute to Cuban superstar Celia Cruz. The West African nation of Benin, formerly Dahomey, produced many artists who were influenced by Cuban music, such as Gnonnas Pedro and Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou. Kijdo channels Cruz in this long-awaited tribute. I’d been looking forward to hearing this one. 

Senegalese superstar Youssou N’Dour recently released a new album called History. I’ve featured his music for a long time, plus hosted his shows at the Palace in Hollywood and the Hollywood Bowl. This is his first album in a number of years and will be welcomed by his fans worldwide. N’Dour created a whole new style of popular Senegalese music called mbalax.

As usual, the playlist features jazz music, in this case new albums by trumpeter Itamar Borochov from the port city of Jaffa, Israel. Moroccan trance band Innov Gnawa joins Borochov on the track called “Motherlands.” Dominican pianist Josean Jacobo presents a nice reading of Coltrane classic “Lonnie’s Lament,” plus we have new music from bassist Rodney Whitaker and pianist David Kikoski, the latter featuring Eric Alexander on tenor sax. I also wanted to highlight pianist Alan Broadbent’s ballad artistry, this time on the standard “I Fall in Love Too Easily.”  Broadbent performs three nights this coming June 14-16 at the Moss Theater courtesy of the Jazz Bakery. (David Kikoski photo below © Gulnara Khamatova.)

While lying in bed the other night a melody from almost 30 years ago ran through my head—and the name Nicky Holland came to mind. We hear the British pianist-composer’s song “Prelude,” which goes all the way back to 1992. It’s less than two minutes long, but has an odd staying power for me.

I’ve been listening lately to the music of one of my all-time heroes, Gerald Wilson. He nurtured generations of musicians as a teacher, bandleader, radio host, and overall inspiration to thousands, including me over my whole life. I feature “Virgo” from his final album, Legacy. It has his famous arrangements and some wonderful trumpet and sax solos. Just days before his death in September 2014, I presented him with a commendation from L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti at the Central Avenue Jazz Festival. God bless Gerald Wilson. 

Last but not least, we remember Alan “Bo” Leibowitz, who passed away last week at 74. Bo hosted KCRW’s Strictly Jazz for 40 years, keeping the lamp lit with his uncompromising taste and love for the music. I feature one of his favorite musicians, tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh, blowing a piece written by his frequent collaborator Lee Konitz, called “Subconscious-Lee.” Bo Leibowitz RIP.

Here's another track from Angelique Kidjo: