This week, Rhythm Planet spins some more new releases that have filled up my grab bag. We begin with a good compilation of Malian music, a great way to start anybody’s collection of Malian music. Bassekou Kouyate is one of the most authentic Malian music purveyors and one of my favorite musicians. His show at UCLA was a highlight for me. He plays the ngoni, the ancestor of the banjo. Did you know that “banjo” is an African word?
Next up, a cousin of the ngoni, the 21 string harp-lute of West Africa (mostly Mali, Guinea, and Senegal) called the kora. Toumani pere et fils are two of the finest players. Algeria’s great singer Lili Boniche is next, singing songs that made him famous in Oran, Algeria’s melting pot where Jewish and Arab culture are bound together by music.
Female singers from Mauretania are powerful artists, and Noura Mint Seymali is no exception. We conclude the African quartet of songs with a jam band from Northern Mali, Imarhan Timbuktu from, you guessed it, Timbuktu.
We hear a classic Neapolitan song next, courtesy of baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan and Italian actor Dominic Chianese. Then, it’s a great new album by UK singer Zara McFarlane, championed by Gilles Peterson and released on his Brownswood label. The song “Police and Thieves” is a reggae classic originally recorded by Junior Murvin.
We wrap the show with a Mexican-South African singer now based in Canada, Amanda Martinez, then two intense and unusual guitar albums by Diego Barber and Marc Ribot. The Barber / Taborn features long, brilliantly-improvised compositions; the Marc Ribot cd, recorded before an excited crowd at the legendary Big Apple nightspot, is incendiary. Veteran bassplayer Henry Grimes–a Juilliard graduate who played with avant garde groups on ESP-Disk and toured with greats like Sonny Rollins–is back on the scene after dropping out and living in obscurity in Los Angeles for decades.
That’s the new release playlist for this week. Enjoy the music!
Rhythm Planet Playlist: 5/23/14
- Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba / Jama Ko / Rough Guide to the Music of Mali / Rough Guides
- Toumani and Sidiki Diabaté / Hamadoun Toure / Toumani Diabaté and Sidiki Diabaté / World Circuit
- Lili Boniche / Mazalat Fi Bali / Tresors de la Musique Judeo-Arabe / World Village
- Noura Seymali / Tzenni / Tzenni / Glitter Beat
- Imarhan Timbuktu / Amassakoul in Tenere / Akal Warled / Clermont
- Gary Smulyan & Dominic Chianese / Funiculi Funicula / Bella Napoli / Capri
- Zara McFarlane / Police and Thieves / If You Knew Her / Brownswood
- Amanda Martinez / Let’s Dance / Manana / MPAL
- Diego Barber & Craig Taborn / Eternal 7 / Tales / Sunnyside
- Marc Ribot Trio / The Wizard / Live at the Village Vanguard / PI