Rhythm Planet’s October Jukebox

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I constantly listen to new music on the radio, rediscover classics, and pick-up CDs and LPs on frequent visits to Amoeba Music. This week’s playlist gives you a taste of what I’ve been listening to lately. It’s all over the place, just the way I like it. Hope you do, too.

First up is a Latin classic from Tito Puente, teamed up with Puerto Rican singer La India, in a rendition of Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale.” Did you know this song was at first shunned by radio for its provocative lyrics?

I’m excited to share a long-forgotten John Coltrane session called Blue World, an unused soundtrack for a Canadian film around the time of his later classics A Love Supreme and Crescent. The reel-to-reel master tape went back to Canada where the filmmakers were based and then forgotten. A wise sleuth on the Canadian film board rediscovered it and Impulse! Records recently released it on 180 gram audiophile vinyl and CD. The great fire of 2008 wiped out Impulse!’s master tapes, so thank goodness this one wasn’t there. Interestingly, Coltrane and the quartet recorded the soundtrack without ever seeing the film. They revisited classic Coltrane material from the Atlantic and Impulse years, but in a more evolved Coltrane style. With each listen, Blue World reveals more and more of its secrets. Ashley Kahn’s liner notes tell the whole story.

We move into new world music releases from British-Bahraini trumpet player Yazz Ahmed, Mauritanian synth keyboardist Ahmedou Ahmed Lowla, and the Russian band Otava Yo. Then we hear a lush recording of Ludovico Einaudi’s song “Night,” performed by Canadian violinist Angèle Dubeau’s group La Pietà, followed by two contemporary Cuban artists, pianist Roberto Fonseca and vocalist Daymé Arocena.

Staying in the Caribbean, I have to feature a track from the Garifuna Collective from Belize. The Garifuna descend from West African slaves who were shipwrecked off the coast of St. Vincent in the 1600’s. Garifuna culture is centered in Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras, all along the Caribbean coast. After the untimely death of Belizian musician and Garifuna activist Andy Palacio in 2008, I am grateful that the Cumbancha label continues to promote Garfiuna music with this new (and interestingly packaged) album.

I picked-up a very attractively-priced 10-CD box set at Amoeba Music a few weeks ago called Calypso - Sounds of the Caribbean Islands. I know calypso, soca, spouge, and other Trinidadian/Tobago music because KCRW aired two different calypso shows back in the day. Calypso has been compared with hip-hop in that the lyrics address topical subjects of the day and puts them to music to “wind your waist,” i.e. shake your booty.  I couldn’t resist a song from Mighty Sparrow about Laika, the Russian space dog, as well as a track from actor Robert Mitchum’s calypso album. Both Mitchum and Maya Angelou recorded calypso albums in the 1960’s, probably following Harry Belafonte’s lead.

Three new jazz albums are up next, from saxophonist Bob Sheppard and pianists Randy Ingram and the late Larry WillisThe first time I heard Randy Ingram's 2017 album The Wandering, I wondered why hadn’t heard of this pianist before. I immediately liked his musical thinking, and his authority and power at the keyboard. He’s a subtle player, never overdoing it, yet the music contains a raw and emotional edge. On his latest album, The Means of Response, Ingram reacts to the 2016 election as well as to current events by using music as a tool of artistic resistance and as a plea for peace and sanity in these troubled times.

We then travel to Spain and hear the Paco de Lucía Project perform Chick Corea’s classic song “Spain,” paired with a track from young flamenco guitarist José Antonio Rodríguez.  We next hear a soulful track from The Soul of Epirus, with music going back a long ways from the Greek countryside near Albania. It’s music for the lute-like laouto and clarinet – honest, evocative, and full of feeling. Rounding out the European musical journey is a food song by the Krakow, Poland group Chłopcy Kontra Basia, from the Rough Guide to World Jazz. I wonder if the band’s name refers to Basia, the popular Polish singer with the challenging last name who earned gold and platinum records in the 1980’s? (Barbara Stanisława Trzetrzelewska is quite a mouthful.)

We finish the playlist with island music from Cape Verde, featuring early music from composer Amandio Cabral and singer Gabriela Mendes.

Pianist Larry Willis (featured in the playlist) passed away recently, and so did two other jazz pianists I love – Richard Wyands and Harold Mabern. I’d like to remember them with the videos below.

First, Wyands with Gigi Gryce on a song I’ve always loved, “Blues in Bloom”:

And Harold Mabern in London with Eric Alexander. Thank goodness there is a recording of this fantastic performance.

Rhythm Planet Playlist for 10/15/19

  1. Tito Puente & La India / “Love for Sale” / RMM Records
  2. John Coltrane / “Blue World” / Verve
  3. Yazz Ahmed / “Lahan al-Mansour” / Ropeadope
  4. Ahmedou Ahmed Lowla / “Terrouzi” / Sahel Sounds
  5. Otava Yo / “Once Upon a Time on a High Hill” / Arc Music
  6. Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà / “Night” / Groupe Analekta
  7. Roberto Fonseca / “Aggua” / Mack Avenue Records
  8. Daymé Arocena / “Yemayá” / Brownswood Recordings
  9. Garifuna Collective / “Lügua (Lost)” / Stonetree Records
  10. Mighty Sparrow / “Russian Satellite” / Documents
  11. Robert Mitchum / “Mama, Looka Boo Boo” / Documents
  12. Bob Sheppard / “The Fine Line” / Challenge Records
  13. Randy Ingram / “The Means of Response” / Sunnyside
  14. Larry Willis / “Alter Ego” / HighNote
  15. The Paco de Lucía Project / “Spain” / Casa Limon America
  16. José Antonio Rodríguez / “Athena (Rondeña)” / Moon Moosic Records
  17. Petroloukas Halkias & Vasilis Kostas / “Skaros” / Technotropon
  18. Chłopcy Kontra Basia / “Wieczerza (The Supper)” / World Music Network
  19. Amandio Cabral / “Cutch Cutch” / Lusafrica
  20. Gabriela Mendes / “Ceu Di São Tomé” / Coit Music