Show #105: May Day Medley

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It’s the first of May and this week again, we check out some wonderful, recent releases that I’ve been wanting to share with all of you.

thWe begin with a collection of the late Cape Verdean Cesaria Evora’s greatest hits and some lesser known gems as well. “Mãe Carinhosa” means ‘Mother Tenderness’ and is a title that was actually chosen posthumously by Cesaria’s longtime producer, in reference to her mother, whom she’d often spoken about. Still revered as a national treasure by her island country, Cesaria was immortalized earlier this year on the new 2,000 escudo bank notes.

618VSU6jjAL._AA160_After that, we have “It’s a Good Day,” an old classic that was first made famous by Doris Day back in the 1950s. This time, it’s been reprised by a young, Brooklyn-based French singer named Cyrille Aimée.

I am absolutely stunned by the talent of 12-year-old Balinese pianist, Joey Alexander. This youngster has pretty much blown the entire jazz world away with his creativity and chops. Listening to him play, you’d never guess that this wunderkind hasn’t had any formal training, aside from what he learned listening to his father’s record collection…but it’s true! You’ve got to watch this YouTube clip of him at the piano.

Balinese wünderkind, Joey Alexander, being cheered and applauded by some older jazz heavyweights.

51WH3T0y2mL._AA160_Next, we’ll tone things down a bit. First, it’s the beautiful, melancholic work of Russian classical composer, Alexander Scriabin (b. 1892–1915), performed by the legendary pianist, Vladimir Horowitz. Then Ukranian pianist, Valentina Lisitsa performs the soft, meditative “Glassworks: Opening” by the modernist composer, Philip Glass.

The Norwegian traditional folk kantele and singer, Sinikka Langeland follows with “Hare Rune” off her fourth album, The Half-Finished Heaven, for ECM Records. The kantele is the Finnish version of the dulcimer that is played by plucking rather than striking.

I thought we’d work in some jazz next, starting with popular bassist, Ben Wolfe, who’s got some lovely horn solos on the up-tempo “S.T.F.U.,” an acronym that stands for…well, I’ll let you Google it yourself. Vijay Iyer follows with his solo piano version of the late jazz composer/orchestrator Billy Strayhorn’s haunting “Blood Count,” a piece written in the last stage of his life.

41tLBWSxehL._AA160_We’ll then switch up the pace with Cuban pianist David Virelles’s amazing work, “The Highest One,” which fuses piano lyricism with Afro-Cuban batá beats. Batás are hourglass-shaped, double-headed drums used in Santeria devotional ceremonies, as well as in Afro-Cuban rumba.

I’ve chosen to round off our last set with Polish pianist, Marcin Wasilewski, playing an elegy to the late L.A. jazz piano prodigy, Austin Peralta, appropriately titled, “Austin.” And finally, Joey Calderazzo does a beautiful reading of of the ballad, “I Never Knew,” which includes a solo by Branford Marsalis, whom he has performed with for over a decade now.

Enjoy this little treasure trove of new releases.

Rhythm Planet Playlist for 05/01/15

    1. Cesaria Evora / “Mãe Carinhosa” / Greatest Hits / Lusafrica
    2. Cyrille Aimée / “It’s a Good Day”It’s a Good Day / Mack Avenue
    3. Joey Alexander / “Giant Steps”My Favorite Things / Mótema Music
    4. Alexander Scriabin / Étude Op. 2 No. 1 / Scriabin: The Complete Works / Decca
    5. Philip Glass / “Glassworks: Opening”Valentina Lisitsa Plays Philip Glass / Decca
    6. Sinikka Langeland / “Hare Rune” / The Half-Finished Heaven / ECM Records
    7. Ben Wolfe / “S.T.F.U.”The Whisperer / Positone
    8. Vijay Iyer Trio / “Blood Count”Break Stuff / ECM Records
    9. David Virelles / “The Highest One”Mbókò / ECM Records
    10. Marcin Wasilewski / “Austin”Spark of Life / ECM Records
    11. Joey Calderazzo / “I Never Knew”Going Home / Sunnyside Communications

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