Show #89: Music on My Mind

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Senegal’s Orchestre Baobab, featured on Golden Afrique, Vol. 1 (1971–1983).

This week, I thought I’d share with everyone the various tracks that I’ve been musing over recently. It says a lot about a piece of music when I can listen to something repeatedly without getting tired of it, or pick out something that I haven’t listened to in awhile and find myself transported right back to that very same moment in time when I first fell in love with the work.

So let’s start off with SBTRKT, the brainchild of UK-based electronic music producer, Aaron Jerome. His latest album, Wonder Where We Land, features two hot tracks that are absolute standouts: “New Dorp. New York,” featuring Ezra Koening and “Gon Stay,” featuring frequent collaborator, Sampha. The entire album is well-crafted with high production values, and no two tracks sound alike, so it’s definitely worth giving the entire thing a listen.

Next, we have two Brazilian artists, Joyce Moreno and the Sao Paulo-based pianist, Benjamim Taubkin, who mixes Brazilian with a dash of Moroccan music to form a delectable musical stew…here’s something that’ll whet your palates. A real poet on the drums, Billy Hart, follows, with a track from his latest album, One is the Other, a superb recording by ECM.

I know I’ve revisited Cuban singer Aberlardo Barroso and Orquestra Sensanción’s “En Guantanamo” a number of times lately, but World Circuit Records’ reissue of his 1950s Cha Cha Cha Emgrem sides in magnificent mono was really one of my absolute favorite albums of last year—I just can’t get enough! After that, it’s the redoubtable and fabulous Senegalese band, Orchestre Baobab. Influenced by the influx of Cuban music into West Africa during the 1970s, many of these multi-national bands would weave in their own griot and Mandinka musical traditions, which can be heard on this fantastic compilation of classics, titled, Golden Afrique, Vol. 1 (1971–1983).

Ustad Sultan Khan & Warren Cuccurullo
Ustad Sultan Khan & Warren Cuccurullo

Next, we change musical lanes with a track called, “The Lost Master,” featuring guitarist Warren Cuccurullo (formerly of Duran Duran) performing together with Hindustani classical singer and sarangi master, the late Ustad Sultan Khan (c. 1940–2011). Taken from a series of recording sessions the two did back in 1998, it’s a rare treat to hear this unlikely pairing create musical magic.

After that, we enjoy a cut from Aaron Park’s luminous solo piano album, Aborescence, meaning ‘tree-like,’ or when applied philosophically, refers to the notion that Western humanism is based on the model of a tree, with Man as the single determinant of all developments—language, culture, arts and sciences. I prefer the former interpretation. The latter, along with a bunch of other French philosophical theories that I could never—and still can’t—quite understand, drove me away from UCLA’s Comparative Literature grad program.

We wrap up with the Brazilian superband, Spok Frevo Orquestra, brainchild of the Pernambuco-based saxophonist and arranger, Inaldo Cavalcante de Albuquerque, better known as Maestro Spok. They are currently touring (mostly) the east coast, so you should see them if they come to your city, or you happen to be traveling out that way. Spok Frevo Orquestra is nothing short of spectacular. You can check out their tour schedule here.

And finally, Helen Sung, a classically trained American jazz pianist with superb technique, concludes our Rhythm Planet show this week. She’s a great composer and has fantastic soloists accompanying her on her album, Anthem for a New Daywhich is a wonderful listen all the way through.

I hope you enjoy these eleven cuts as much as I do!

Spok Frevo Orquestra
Spok Frevo Orquestra

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Rhythm Planet Playlist: 01/09/15

  1. SBTRKT (feat. Ezra Koening) / “New Dorp. New York”Wonder Where We Land / Young Turks
  2. SBTRKT (feat. Samba) / “Gon Stay”Wonder Where We Land / Young Turks
  3. Joyce Moreno / “Canton de Yansan”Raiz / Far Out Recordings
  4. Benjamim Taubkin / “Berma Sosanbi & Adeus Meu Lírio Verde” / Al Qantara / Adventure Music
  5. Billy Hart Quartet / “Teule’s Redemption”One is the Other / ECM
  6. Abelardo Barroso & Orquestra Sensanción / “En Guantánamo”Cha Cha Cha / World Circuit
  7. Orchestra Baobab / “Autorail”Golden Afrique, Vol. 1 (1971–1983) / Network
  8. Warren Cuccurullo & Ustad Sultan Khan / “The Lost Master”The Master / Six Degrees Records
  9. Aaron Parks / “Toward Awakening”Arborescence / ECM
  10. Spok Frevo Orquestra / “Tá Achando que Tá Devagar?” / Ninho de Vespa / Motema Music
  11. Helen Sung / “Brother Thelonious”Anthem for a New Day / Concord Records

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