This week’s mix of new musical goodies begins with British singer Laura Mvula’s rendition of “Stay Awake,” the classic lullaby from Disney’s Mary Poppins, with an attractive arrangement backing Mvula. The track comes from a compilation of Disney soundtrack hits covered by artists such as Mvula, Angélique Kidjo, George Benson, and Madeleine Peyroux.
Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo (“Yay-Lo” is the correct pronunciation as I just found out) has a lovely new album out called Winter Songs, featuring performances by Choir of Royal Holloway and the string orchestra 12 Ensemble. I plan to feature this one again on Christmas Becomes Eclectic, which I’ll be hosting this year on Monday, December 25, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Two French art songs follow. We first hear the famous “Flower Duet” from Léo Delibes’ opera Lakmé. I discovered this beautiful song years ago as part of the soundtrack to the 1987 film I Heard the Mermaids Singing. French soprano Sabine Devieilhe is accompanied by mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa on this duet from Devieilhe’s new album of opera and French song, Mirages. We then hear mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa from her own album, Secrets. Crebassa sings the aria “La Flûte de Pan” from Debussy’s song cycle Les Chansons de Bilitis.
We change gears and hear jazz pianist Rob Schneiderman perform a cut from his new album Tone Twister, featuring tasty licks from trumpet player Brian Lynch. We shift next to steelpan master Andy Narell. The Trinidadian-Tobago steelpan is ingeniously fashioned from discarded oil drums and tempered into three-octave musical instruments. Fascinatingly, the versatile steelpan can sound equally appropriate for calypso or Chopin. Brian Eno once said that the most violent musical sounds can come from celebratory music, and listed steelpan drums as an example.
We start the last set with a triple threat of stringed instruments played by the group 3MA, aka Malian Ballaké Sissoko on the West African kora, Moroccan Driss El Maloumi on oud, and Madagascar valiha player Rajery. The track shows how disparate musical styles from different countries elide together seamlessly and beautifully, too.
Damascus-born Maya Youssef, a virtuosic qânûn (Arabic zither) player, closes the show with a cut from her new Harmonia Mundi release, Syrian Dreams. Youssef wrote the music on the album as a response to her feelings of loss and sadness after the start of the Syrian war in 2011. This short video provides some interesting background on the instrument, the artist, and the album.
Rhythm Planet Playlist for 12/8/17
- Laura Mvula / “Stay Awake” /Jazz Loves Disney 2 – A Kind Of Magic/ Verve
- Ola Gjeilo / “The Rose” / Winter Songs / Decca
- Sabine Devieilhe / “Lakmé, Act 1: “Viens, Mallika” (Lakmé, Mallika)” / Mirages / Warner Classics
- Marianne Crebassa / “La Flûte de Pan” / Secrets / Warner Classics
- Rob Schneiderman / “Footloose Freestyle” / Tone Twister / Hollistic Musicworks
- Andy Narell / “We Kinda Music” / We Kinda Music / Listen 2
- 3MA: Ballaké Sissoko, Driss El Maloumi, Rajery / “Moustique” / Anarouz / Mad Minute Music/Six Degrees
- Maya Youssef / “Breakthrough” / Syrian Dreams / Harmonia Mundi