Show #221: A Potpourri of New Musical Gems

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So many wonderful new releases have hit my desk recently, and I’d like to share a top 10 selection with you this week. We start off with the daring chamber group Kronos Quartet, with an album of Malian modal groove provided by Trio Da Kali mixed with the famous Kronos sound. Once again, Kronos has pulled off a natural and effortless blend of disparate musical traditions—in this case, African music with European. Kudos to them on this new release called Ladilikan, from the great U.K. label World Circuit.

Putumayo has just issued two terrific compilations of Cuban classics. We hear this week from the Cuban Playground album with Havana Mambo doing “La Mecaniquita” (The Little Female Mecanic). Somebody tell me what the lyrics mean, as songs like this tend to be filled with racy double entendres!

Banda Magda, a group with a global pedigree led by Greek-born composer singer and accordionist Magda Giannikou, has a wonderful new album called Tigre. I really liked their past albums and this one, too. The group just premiered a fun video of the track we hear, called “Tam Tam.” Tigre will be out on September 15 on Verve/GroundUP Music.

We move on to a new album from Nashville jazz singer Dara Tucker. I don’t know much about her, but this is kind of heartland jazz. I love her voice and the lyrics are so uplifting. It’s beautiful.

A new album of Charlie Parker classics comes next, featuring singers such as Camille Berthault, Melody Gardot, and Madeleine Peyroux tackling the bebop master’s music. We’ll hear Gregory Porter’s take on Bird’s “Yardbird Suite.” I love Donny McCaslin’s tenor playing on the CD. (He played on David Bowie’s swan song album.)

Next up are two classics from Spanish guitarist Narciso Yepes, whose entire Deutsche Grammophon oeuvre has just been released in a 20 CD (!!) box set called The Complete Solo Recordings. Yepes plays both the 10-string guitar and lute in this big box set, and we hear him play a difficult etude by Villa Lobos and an Andrés Segovia version of a Catalonian folk song, “El Noi de la Mare.”


We then head south to the West African country of Cameroon, with a driving song called “Africa” by Clément Djimogne from the album Pop Makossa. This beautifully packaged Analog Africa release of Cameroonian dance music from 1976-1984 includes a substantive booklet of band photos, history, and context. Bravo! Analog Africa always does it right.

We move into the last set of the show with a smoking live track from veteran jazz man Charles Lloyd. The album Passin’ Thru is named after the famous album Lloyd did with the Chico Hamilton Quintet, recorded at the Montreux Festival and at the Lensic, Santa Fe Music Festival. Lloyd and his new super-group play a 12-bar blues called “Nu Blues.”

Pianist Cyrus Chestnut finishes with a great version of the Bobby Hutcherson classic “Little B’s Poem,” with Steve Nelson on vibes, Lenny White on drums, and Buster Williams on bass. Another fabulous jazz album!

Rhythm Planet Playlist for 7/28/17

1. Trio-Da-Kali & Kronos Quartet / “Eh Ya Ye” / Ladilikan / World Circuit
2. Havana Mambo / “La Mecaniquita” / Cuban Playground / Putumayo
3. Banda Magda / “Tam Tam” / Tigre / Banda Magda
4. Dara Tucker / “Oklahoma Rain” / Oklahoma Rain / Watchman Music Group
5. Gregory Porter / “Yarbird Suite” / The Passion Of Charlie Parker / Impulse!
6. Narciso Yepes / “Villa-Lobos Etude #12” / 12 Etudes / Deutsche Grammophon
7. Narciso Yepes / “El Noi De La Mare” / Musica Catalana / Deutsche Grammophon
8. Clement Dijmonge / “Africa” / Pop Makossa / The Invasive Dance Beat / Analog Africa
9. Charlies Lloyd New Quartet / “Nu Blues” / Passin’ Thru / Blue Note
10. Cyrus Chestnut / “Little B’s Poem” / There’s A Sweet, Sweet Spirit / High Note

Banner image of Magda Giannikou from Banda Magda courtesy of Verve Label Group