Rhythm Planet’s New Music Favorites

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Vocalist Jazzmeia Horn Photo by Emmanuel Afolabi

This week’s playlist features a mix of jazz, world, tropical Latin, and crossover classical new releases that I’m enjoying now. We start out with the funaná classic “Nha Boi,” a spirited style of Cape Verdean music considered politically and morally dangerous back when Portugal still ruled the island, which ended with independence in 1975. Funaná, a rousing, sexy accordion music, was then performed after the colonial period. The Bongo Hop, the band that follows, is a French-Colombian group that plays a funky Caribbean mix. We also hear Haitian collective Lakou Mizik with Leyla McCalla, a Haitian-American artist based in New Orleans, hence their album title HaitiaNola.

We turn to Cuban son from Kiki Valera, a member of an illustrious Cuban musical family based in Santiago de Cuba on the Eastern side of the island. Then we bring it home with Mariachi Los Camperos, one of the best mariachi bands anywhere, with great singing, strings, and arrangements. Malian blues is next, provided by Luka Productions, aka Luka Guindo, a rapper and producer of contemporary Malian hip-hop. Then we hear an atmospheric piece composed by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, performed by the Belgian Echo Collective.

I love to feature new jazz sides in each playlist, so here is a whole bunch of new stuff. First, from William Susman in a chamberistic style, then vocalist Carmen Lundy, whom I’ve always liked.  We hear from German harmonica virtuoso Hendrik Meurkens, who is comfortable playing in just about any context. Meurkens is joined by veteran Kind of Blue drummer Jimmy Cobb, guitarist Peter Bernstein, and pianist Mike LeDonne. Nice company.

Vocalist Kurt Elling and trumpeter James Morrison team up on a jazz classic made famous by the late Eddie Jefferson, a fun song called “Benny’s from Heaven.” We also hear the title track from L.A.-based Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Schalk’s new album Obsession. Tenor saxophonist Ray Blue then performs a straight-ahead version of the gospel classic, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

I’ve been waiting to feature a great new album called Trane’s Delight by percussionist Poncho Sanchez, based mostly on John Coltrane classics in tribute to the tenor master. Check out Robert Hardt’s tenor solo on the track Sube—fantastic playing. Rising young singer-songwriter Jazzmeia Horn is out with her second album called Love and Liberation. We listen to an upbeat song called “Out the Windowfrom her new album.

On his Danish Ballads…& More, veteran sax man Scott Hamilton works with a Danish group to play, you guessed it, Danish songs. Hamilton is old-school in the style of Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Chu Berry, and Lester Young. Can’t go wrong there. Trumpeter Randy Brecker plays a copacetic song with Ada Rovatti, an Italian tenor sax player. German drummer and composer Mareike Wiening is out with a new album called Metropolis Paradise with saxophonist Rich Perry and others.

The Congolese-French singer Maître Gims is now all the rage in Europe, with a hit album that has sold millions. We hear Gim’s song “Reste,” a collaboration with the superstar Sting. The playlist closes with another French track, but one from way back in time off of a new Putumayo compilation Paris Café—the classic “Douce France” (Sweet France) by singer Charles Trenet. The 1944 chanson was a love song to France that became a hit just as France was liberated from Nazi occupation.

Rhythm Planet Playlist for 11/12/19

  1. Tchota Suari, Chando Graciosa / “Nha Boi” / Ostinato Records
  2. The Bongo Hop feat. Nidia Gongora / “Ventana” / TheUnderdogRecords
  3. Lakou Mizik feat. Leyla McCalla / “Rasanbleman” / Cumbancha
  4. Kiki Valera / “Mi Son” / Origin Records
  5. Mariachi Los Camperos / “Vivir Sin Ti” / Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
  6. Luka Productions / “Falaw” / Sahel Sounds
  7. Echo Collective, Jóhann Jóhannsson / “Stuk” / Deutsche Grammophon
  8. William Susman, Piccola Accademia degli Specchi / “Camille: I. Vitality” / Belarca
  9. Carmen Lundy / “A Time for Peace” / Afrasia Productions
  10. Hendrik Meurkens / “Cobb’s Pocket” / IN+OUT Records
  11. James Morrison, Kurt Elling / “Benny’s from Heaven (Live)” / Universal Music Australia
  12. Wolfgang Schalk / “Obsession” / Frame Up Music
  13. Ray Blue / “Lift Every Voice and Sing” / Jazzheads
  14. Poncho Sanchez / “Sube” / Concord Picante
  15. Jazzmeia Horn / “Out the Window” / Concord Jazz
  16. Scott Hamilton Quartet / “Forelsket i København” / Stunt Records
  17. Randy Brecker, Ada Rovatti / “The Queen of Bibelot” / Piloo Records
  18. Mareike Wiening / “Free Time” / Greenleaf Music
  19. Maître Gims feat. Sting / “Reste” / Chahawat
  20. Charles Trenet / “Douce France” / Putumayo World Music