Show #17: Weekly Top 10 Picks

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This week Rhythm Planet features some new releases that may not be getting the airplay they’re due. All music auditioned and approved by yours truly. Enjoy!!!

We begin with the amazing Aziz Sahmaoui and the University of Gnawa. This is Moroccan trance music–gnawa is mystical music brought to Morocco hundreds of years ago from subsaharan slaves, and it has entranced many, from the Rolling Stones to Paul Bowles, Ginsberg, and the Beat Poets. The shifting polyrhythms are complex and amazing.


Rhythm Planet Playlist: 8/16/13

  1. Aziz Sahmaoui & University Of Gnawa/ Ana Hayou / Aziz Sahmaoui & University of Gnawa / Adami
  2. El Gusto / Kidjet Daltek / El Gusto / Unknown
  3. Venissa Santi / That Old Devil Called Love / Afro Cuban Holiday / Sunnyside
  4. Nancy Harms / From My First Momeny (Satie Gymnopedie #1) / Dreams In Apartments / Gazelle Records
  5. Vanessa Vo Van-Ahn / Gnossiene #3 (Satie) / Three-Mountain Pass / Innova
  6. Boogaloo Assassins/ Mi JevaOld Love Dies Hard / Sicario
  7. Mulatu Astatke / Hager FikerSketches Of Ethiopia / Jazz Village
  8. The Cutlass Band / Obiarfa Wondo / Afrobeat Airways 2: Return Flight To Ghana / Analog Africa
  9. The Green / Even Before / Hawai’i 13 / Easy Star
  10. Rodrigo Pitta (R/Pitta) / Agua Tudo / Estados Alterados (Altered States) / Polo Industrial
  11. Francy Boland / Like Someone In Love / Playing With The Trio / Schema/Ishtar

Up next in the set, we hop to Algeria and hear the 20 piece El Gusto Orchestra of Algiers, which started in the Casbah back in the 1950s, then all the musicians–Jews, Arabs, Berbers, Christians–scattered during Algeria’s war of independence ending in 1962. It’s a Buena Vista Social Club cinderella story, which I wrote about in a blog post from November 13, 2012. It’s an amazing story, and the both this band and Aziz Sahmaoui were amazing during their recent performances in LA, part of the wonderful and free Grand Performances series hosted downtown.

Venissa Santi is a Cuban American who hear combines jazz and popular standards with a good bit of Cuban flavors: guaguanco rumba rhythms, plenty of syncopated clavé. It’s a wonderful combination and really offers a fresh take on these old musical chestnuts.

In the two following cuts, Nancy Harms and Vanessa Vo give us unusual versions of Satie classics…the latter on Vietnamese zither.

I’ve been waiting for LA’s great band Boogaloo Assassins to put their first record out, and here it is. If you’re an Ozomatli fan, you will like this band.

Mulatu Astatke is a godfather of Ethiopian music, and he has a great new release on Harmonia Mundi’s excellent Jazz Village label (Jazz Village releases another new album from Ahmad Jamal next week).

Ghanian funk and soul follows with The Cutlass Band which is part of a new anthology of 70’s bands on the fine Analog Africa label.

Fans of Fat Freddy’s Drop will like the Hawaiian band The Green in the cut that follows. It has an easy, breezy flow and I really like this tune.

Next we have an experimental Brazilian artist named Rodrigo Pitta. I don’t know anything about this artist except that I totally like this track. The record label is based in Manaus,  near the source of Brazil’s Amazon and the locale of some of Werner Herzog‘s films like the Opera House in Manaus for the 1982 film, Fitzcarraldo.

We close with a nice ballad by Belgian pianist Francy Boland, who led a big band and who cut this trio side back in 1966. It was never reissued before, and we have Turin, Italy’s great label Schema/Ishtar to thank for it.

Hope you enjoy listening to these wonderful releases!

aziz vanissa-santi 51OWCcq2SAL._AA160_ 866cover_0 61ObMfCbqML._AA160_ 51vWHx8WAxL._AA160_ 51-14L2Vy9L._AA160_ 61qjdLU25OL._AA160_ 511XHTBUlLL._AA160_ 348_2_Playing with the trio