Rhythm Planet’s Upcoming Concert Picks

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A wealth of musical adventures await in May. Rhythm Planet’s picks range from a new project by Angelique Kidjo to the soulful Gullah music of Ranky Tanky, plus a visit to Los Angeles by legendary Iranian singer Googoosh and more. Read on to the listings below for more information.

Ranky Tanky (photo courtesy of Carpenter Performing Arts Center) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Friday, April 27 | The Joey Alexander Trio | Musco Center for the Arts (Orange)

I’ve just written about Joey Alexander, the wunderkind teen jazz pianist from Bali, so I won’t repeat it all here. In short, he’s amazingly talented. Alexander is currently on tour to promote his new album Eclipse, which features both standards as well as his original compositions. His trio includes bassist Kristopher Funn and drummer Johnathan Blake. Click HERE for tickets and information.

Here’s the title track from the new album:

Saturday, May 5 | Angelique Kidjo: Remain in Light | The Ace Hotel, Presented by CAP UCLA (Downtown)

Leave it to Angelique Kidjo, the protean and versatile singer from Benin, to reimagine Talking Heads’s 1980 classic album Remain in Light. Produced by Brian Eno with original compositions by the band, Remain in Light drew on West African musical influences and the afrobeat of Fela Kuti. With her new project, Kidjo brings the music full circle, saying, “As ‘Remain in Light’ was influenced by the music of my continent, I want to pay back the homage and create my own African take on Talking Heads’ songs.” Kidjo has added powerful percussion and horn orchestrations, and sings select lyrics in African languages. The album won’t be out until June 8, but Kidjo has been performing special album shows in a few cities, including a debut performance at Carnegie Hall last year to glowing reviews. This will be a great show for both her fans and Talking Heads devotees. Click HERE for tickets and information.

Here’s the track “Born Under Punches” from the new album, dropping June 8:

Sunday, May 6 | Ranky Tanky | Carpenter Performing Arts Center (Long Beach)

Ranky Tanky hails from South Carolina and carries on the tradition of the Gullah music of the southeastern Sea Islands that goes all the way back to the days of slavery. Their 2017 eponymous debut album has won many new followers—like me—of this seldom-heard music, filled with heart, soul, and history. I am particularly moved by the beautiful singing of Quiana Parler. American Idol fans may remember Parler from season 2 of the show. The group comes to the Carpenter Performing Arts Center for an afternoon performance at 2 p.m. Click HERE for tickets and information.

Check out the group performing the old, deep, and soulful song called “O Death”:

Tuesday, May 8 | Yuja Wang in Recital | Walt Disney Concert Hall (Downtown)

Piano virtuoso Yuja Wang returns to Walt Disney Concert Hall for a recital of mostly Russian classics by Rachmaninov and Scriabin, with several Rach preludes and Scriabin’s amazing, final Sonata #10. The program also includes Hungarian composer György Ligeti’s three etudes and Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata #8. Wang is stunning in live performance, and this solo recital will be a great chance to hear this charismatic artist play both romantic Russian repertoire and modernist Ligeti’s piano works. (Stanley Kubrick included Ligeti’s music in the soundtrack to his 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.) Click HERE for tickets and information.

Yuja Wang (Photo by Norbert Kniat courtesy of the L.A. Phil) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Saturday, May 12 | Googoosh | Hollywood Bowl (Hollywood)

Legendary Iranian pop singer Googoosh returns to Los Angeles on May 12, when she will be the first Iranian artist to headline at the Hollywood Bowl. You can bet that thousands and multi-generations of Los Angeles’s large Persian community will turn out for this extraordinary show. Born in 1950 in Tehran to Iranian Azeri and Azerbaijani parents, Googoosh started singing traditional songs at the age of three after her father put her on stage with his troupe. The much-beloved singer rose to fame in pre-revolutionary Iran in the 1970s, became both a music and fashion icon, and starred in over 25 movies. She was in Los Angeles at the start of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, but felt homesick and returned anyway despite the consequences—she would not be allowed to perform for over 20 years. Her music, along with that of many popular artists, was banned by the theocratic regime. She finally took to the stage again in 2000 under Mohammed Khatami’s presidency, and was allowed to tour outside of Iran. A feature-length documentary, Googoosh: Iran’s Daughter, was released that same year. Click HERE for tickets and information.

Here is a clip from the documentary:

Banner image of Angelique Kidjo by Danny Clinch, courtesy of CAP UCLA.