Rhythm Planet's March Musical Madness

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Malian group Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba with people from their neighborhood Photo by Thomas Dorn

Rhythm Planet showcases tracks from 20 new albums this week. We start the playlist with the Lebanese violinist Layale Chaker, who was recently profiled in the New York Times. We’ll also hear a lovely song by pianist Kait Dunton featuring tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer, plus one from new indie artist Jessica Pratt that I heard on MBE and really liked.

I have been a big fan of ECM Records for a long time—for their artists, music, production values, and for the jazz, classical, folk and many other genres represented. The playlist includes two stellar new ECM albums, the first from Norwegian bassist Mats Eilertsen and another by Greek singer Eleni Karaindrou. I love the textures of the piano, acoustic bass, and drums on the Eilertsen CD, and the dark, moody beauty of Karaindrou’s.

Dawda JobartehOn the African music front, the new album Miri from Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba is all about home, friends, and family (including Kouyate’s mother, who passed away). The title song “Miri” captures Kouyate’s feelings upon returning to his hometown Garana, on the banks of the Niger River. We also hear from the new album by Gambian kora player and griot Dawda Jobarteh (at right), who comes from a family of master musicians, and a great new track from the Sudanese-Italian singer Amira Kheir.

I will always feature jazz music, and the jazz sides here include trumpet players Randy Brecker, Mike Steinel, and Jeremy Pelt, the gifted pianist Michael Wolff (veteran of Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley’s bands), and guitarist Julian Lage with his version of the Ornette Coleman classic “Tomorrow is The Question.” Argentine composer Carlos Franzetti, known for his large scale orchestral works, has a new trio album of jazz standards. He plays a nice version of the Disney standard, “When You Wish Upon a Star.”

To highlight just a couple more tracks, the UK-based collective Rafiki Jazz revisits a song made famous by the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan with their version of the Qawwali (Sufi gospel) classic, “Jhooli Laal Qalander.” We’ll also hear one from Ivan Conti, drummer with the Brazilian supergroup Azymuth that was huge in the 1970’s and continues to make music. These are some of the highlights from this eclectic mix of new releases, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Rhythm Planet Playlist for 3/5/19

  1. Layale Chaker & Sarafand / “Ushaq” / Inner Rhyme / In A Circle Records
  2. Mercer Hassy / “Autumn” / Waon / Mercer Hassy Records
  3. Kait Dunton / “Dear John” (feat. Bob Mintzer) / Planet D’earth / Real & Imagined Music
  4. Jessica Pratt / “As the World Turns” / Quiet Signs / Mexican Summer
  5. Mats Eilertsen, Harmen Fraanje, Thomas Strønen/ “Albatross” / And Then Comes the Night / ECM Records
  6. Eleni Karaindrou / “Between Two Worlds” / Karaindrou: Tous des oiseaux / ECM New Series
  7. Voces8 / “Theme from Harry’s Game”/ Enchanted Isle / Decca Music Group
  8. Amira Kheir / “Amwaj (Waves)” / Mystic Dance / Sterns Music
  9. Carlos Franzetti / “When You Wish Upon A Star” / Ricordare / Sunnyside
  10. Michael Wolff / “Allison” / Swirl / Sunnyside
  11. Jeremy Pelt / “The Rodin Suite, Pt. 1” / Jeremy Pelt The Artist / HighNote Records
  12. Ivan Conti / “Encontro” / Poison Fruit / Far Out Recordings
  13. Dawda Jobarteh / “I Met Her by the River” / I Met Her by the River / Sterns Africa
  14. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba / “Miri” / Miri / OutHere Records
  15. Rafiki Jazz / “Jhooli Laal Qalandar” / Rough Guide to Women of the World / World Music Network
  16. Mike Steinel Quintet / “Whispered Tear” / Song and Dance / OA2 Records
  17. Jordan Pettay / “Whatever Happens” / First Fruit / Outside in Music
  18. Cochemea / “Mitote” / All My Relations / Daptone Records
  19. Randy Brecker & NDR Bigband / “Pastoral” / ROCKS / Piloo Records
  20. Julian Lage / “Tomorrow Is The Question” / Love Hurts / Mack Avenue Records