Show #259: April Music Mix

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This week’s Rhythm Planet music mix showcases some choice new sides, beginning with the sensational Cuban big band Orquesta Akokán. A couple of enterprising Americans—producer Jacob Plasse and crack arranger Mike Eckroth—worked with top Cuban musicians assembled by Cuban vocalist José “Pepito” Gomez. It’s a throwback to the pre-Castro mambo music of the Tropicana nightclub, and the musicians are fantastic.

We turn next to three pianists, starting with Brazilian Eliane Elias covering the music from the Broadway hit Man of La Mancha. Then we hear a new one from Venezuelan pianist Edward Simon, featuring the Imani Winds chamber ensemble and vocalist Gretchen Parlato. We close the piano set with the title track from Johannes Wallmann’s new CD Love Wins. The track features the vocals/spoken word of poet Rob DZ. Wallmann currently serves as Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Wisconsin.

Wajatta (Phot by Allister Ann) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

The band Wajaata is a collaboration between German-born DJ/producer Reggie Watts and Austrian-born DJ/producer John Tejada, hence the group’s name. A new favorite with KCRW DJ’s, the group has been characterized as a “cosmic collection of funk-infused techno.”

South Carolina quintet Ranky Tanky focuses on Gullah music, the regional style of the Sea Islands along the coasts of Georgia and Florida. It’s soulful music that goes back to slave times and derives from West African culture. Heads-up that the group plays at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach on Sunday, May 6, 2018.

Gerald Toto, Richard Bona, and Lokua Kanza (respectively from France, Cameroon, Congo) form the next group, and their vocal harmonies grace a new Putumayo collection called African Café. Beautifully produced and packaged with an informative booklet, this new compilation is great start for anybody wanting to know more about African music.

Algerian desert-rockers, the Tuareg band Imarhan closes out the show with a cut from the new album Temet. Like the music of Malian neighbors Tinariwen, Tartit, and Toumast, Imarhan’s music shows us where the blues originated—on the desert sands of Mali, Mauretania, and Niger. Here’s another taste of Imarhan from their latest release:

Rhythm Planet Playlist 4/20/18

1. Orquesta Akokán / “La Corbata Barata” / Orquesta Akokán / Daptone Records
2. Eliane Elias / “The Barber’s Song” / Music From The Man Of La Mancha / Concord Jazz
3. Edward Simon / “Equanimity (Feat. Gretchen Parlato)” / Sorrows & Triumphs / Sunnyside
4. Johannes Wallmann / “Love Wins” / Love Wins / Fresh Sound New Talent
5. Wajatta / “We Know More (Than We Lead On)” / Casual High Technology / Comedy Dynamics
6. Ranky Tanky / “Go to Sleep” / Ranky Tanky / Resilience Music
7. Toto Bona Lokua / “M’aa Kiana” / African Café / Putumayo
8. Imarhan / “Tamudre” / Temet / City Slang