On this week’s show, we listen to music I never tire of hearing—evergreens that I’ve loved going back decades in some cases. I’ll start with the wonderful Nuyorican timbales player Manny Oquendo, who led one of the greatest tropical Latin outfits ever to grace New York dance clubs. Check out the three-trombone arrangement by Steve Turre and you’ll understand why French composer Hector Berlioz called the trombone the most romantic instrument. On this track the sound of the three ‘bones is as lush and smooth as aged single malt.
Jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal’s fans included Miles Davis, so we’ll hear Ahmad’s song “New Rhumba” played twice, first the original version, then the Miles Davis and Gil Evans arrangement of it on Miles’ first Columbia recording from 1957, Miles Ahead.
Serge Gainsbourg was already famous—some would say infamous provocateur—when he recorded his album Couleur Café in 1965. I love this song, and particularly love the “original music video” for it.
The next two tracks are also by French musicians—Hector Zazou and Michel Benita—both modernists with an edgy sound. Zazou’s song from Sahara Blue features Khaled, Sussan Deyhim, and other guests. Bassist Michel Benita creates aural landscapes that I find utterly seductive.
We move on to a set of three Brazilian songs beginning with São Paulo-based singer Mônica Salmaso in a recording that showcases her gorgeous voice. It gives me goosebumps every time. Then we hear composer Moacir Santos and his 1965 classic album Coisas. Santos called his compositions “coisas,” which is Portuguese for “things.” Guitarist Baden Powell then plays his classic song “Canto de Ossanha,” co-written by poet-lyricist Vinicius de Moraes. This powerful version was recorded at a 1975 concert in Frankfurt, Germany.
Finally we close with the hypnotic “Oblivion” from a 1989 Astor Piazzolla recording that is only available from specialized websites like Discogs. The CD I’m playing, Love Tanguedia has been reissued as Tanguedia de Amor, but “Oblivion” is not on this later album so watch out if you want to pick up this disc. Luckily, you can still find “Oblivion” on other Piazzolla recordings.
Banner image (above) of Mônica Salmaso courtesy of the artist. Photo by Marcílio Godoi.
Rhythm Planet Playlist for 9/1/17
- Manny Oquendo y Libre / “Little Sunflower” / Sonido Estilo y Ritmo / Montuno
- Ahmad Jamal / “New Rhumba” / Priceless Jazz Collection / GRP Records
- Miles Davis / “New Rhumba” / Miles Ahead / Columbia
- Serge Gainsbourg / “Couleur Café” / Couleur Café / Mercury
- Hector Zazou / “Amdyaz” / Sahara Blue / Crammed
- Michel Benita / “Off the Coast” / River Silver / ECM
- Mônica Salmaso / “Ave Mario No Morro” / Voadeira / LIGHTYEAR
- Moacir Santos / “Coisa No. 9” / Coisas / Universal Latino
- Baden Powell / “Canto De Ossanha” / Mestres Da Mpb / Warner Music Brasil
- Astor Piazzolla / “Oblivion” / Love Tanguedia / Tropical Storm