Show #136: New and Noteworthy Releases Pt. 2

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We begin with Dexter Story’s new cd Wondem.   The title is Amharic (Ethiopian) for brother.  LA-born and bred, Story is an accomplished musician, conductor, and band leader.  I have been impressed by his live sets at Grand Performances @ Calif. Plaza and other venues.  This album is a nod for his love of Ethiopian music, and you’ll detect the pulse of that music in this first track on the album.

The next cut is from a new Analog Africa reissue collection of classic 1970’s Senegalese bands.  We’ll hear a but by King N’Gam et Les Perles Noirs (Black Pearls) which reflects the Senegalese infatuation with Cuban music,  this all before Youssou N’Dour arrived with his new mbalax style.  The compilation of rare groove also features music by Orchestra Baobab, Star Band de Dakar, and other top groups of the day.

A classic r&b song if there ever was one, Little Junior Parker’s Blue Flames reminds me of a description given by the late New Yorker writer Whitney Balliet on Big Joe Turner, another blues shouter:  “He had a voice so big, all he had to do was open his mouth and get out of the way”.  This is from a new companion 2 cd set to a recent book about Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records in Memphis and the producer who put Elvis Presley on the map.

Fofoulah is a collective of Senegalese,  French and British musicians, based in the U.K. .   The music is based on Malian modal groove.  From Glitterbeat, the same German label that released the latest Bassekou Kouyate cd, one of my favorites this year.

Vieux Farka Toure, son of the late Malian bluesman Ali Farka Toure comes next, with vocalist Julia Easterlin, with a song about the recent spate of police killings of unarmed black men.  Heavy stuff.

An experimental record featuring Indian vocalists and jazz musicians is next on this week’s playlist, a large-format from the cd American Pilgrimage;  the Indian artists travelled the U.S. and recorded with various jazz musicians on the way.

We finish with a lovely Chopin crossover album The Chopin Project, with cellist Ola Arnalds & pianist Alice Sara Ott.  It takes Chopin into a new dimension and I think the results bear fruit.

Finally, Azerbaijan-born pianist Amina Figarova, who studied at Berklee School of Music and now is based and teaches in New York.  I have followed her for several years and I like her touch and compositions.  We’ll hear the title cut, “Blue Whisper”.

Next week it will be New and Noteworthy pt. 3, and by that time I will have given all these fine new releases their due.

Rhythm Planet Playlist for 12/11/15

  1. Dexter Story / “A New Day” / Wondem / Soundway
  2. King N’Gam Et Les Perles Noires / “Viva Marvillias” / Senegal 70 / Analog Africa
  3. Little Junior’s Blue Flames / “Feelin’ Good” / Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock / Yep Rock
  4. Fofoulah / “The Clean Up” / Fofoulah / Glitterbeat
  5. Vieux Farka Toure & Julia Easterlin / “Took My Brother Down”Touristes / Six Degrees
  6. Sanja Chitale & Sandeep Chowta / “Kesariya”American Pilgrimage / Universal Music Classics
  7. Olafur Arnalds & Alice Sara Ott / “Reminiscence” / The Chopin Project / Mercury Classics
  8. Amina Figarova / “Blue Whisper”Blue Whisper / In+Out Records