Best of Rhythm Planet Year-end Wrap

We wrap up the year with a playlist of some of my favorite albums from 2016. There are many more that I loved that I couldn’t include, but you can find them on the blog here.

We start with a great compilation of Haitian classics that I can’t recommend enough. We’ll hear the unofficial national anthem, “Meci Bon Dieu” (Thank You Good God), done by the big Haitian radio orchestra, L’Orchestre de la Radio National D’Haiti.

Next comes a fusion album that I’m pretty sure will take home a grammy in 2017–flamenco superstar Diego El Cigala teaming up with a stable of top salsa musicians. It is a tour de force.

Then we hear some fine desert blues from Imarhan, a tuareg band from Southern Algeria, followed by another desert blues group from Mauretania, led by singer Noura Mint Seymali.

Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo then gives us the gorgeous “Ubi Caritas”, a devotional song having to do with the washing of feet. It is so beautiful. The track also features the British vocal ensemble Voces8.

Michel Benita is an Algerian-born, Paris-based bass player whose ECM album will take you on an amazing journey. There’s an upright bass, a fine Japanese koto playerunusual trumpet lines, and an almost hallucinatory sound.

Gavin Bryars, the veteran U.K. composer, is next with an album recorded at the Curtis Institute and performed by Donald Nally and Prism Quartet and The Crossing. Another ECM gem from 2016.

Sudanese singer Alsarah follows with a cool groove, “Manara.” Next we venture to the Horn of Africa, Somaliland (not to be confused with the better-known Somalia), and the singer Sahra Halgan.

From the Horn of Africa we head west to Brazil, with a classic samba by Alaide Costa, from a new 3-cd set of samba classics Rio Samba, one of the best collections I’ve ever seen and it’s less than $10. Its companion box set, Rio Bossa, is also a must, but if I had to choose just one it would be the samba collection. A lot of these sambas are not featured on other samba collections. Most of them are older sambas, real classics you must hear.

Happy new year!

Rhythm Planet Playlist for 12/30/16: 

  1. L’Orchestre de la Radio National D’Haiti / “Meci Bon Dieu” / Tanbou Toujou Lou: Meringue, Kompa Kreyol, Vodou Jazz & Electric Folklore from Haiti 1960-1981 / Ostinato Records
  2. Diego El Cigala / “Moreno Soy” / Indestructible / Sony Music Latin
  3. Imarhan / “Imarhan” / Imarhan / City Slang
  4. Noura Mint Seymali / “Richa” / Arbina / Glitterbeat Records
  5. Ola Gjeilo featuring Voces8 / “Ubi Caritas” / Ola Gjeilo / Decca
  6. Michel Benita and Ethics / “I See Altitudes” / River Silver / ECM
  7. Donald Nally and Prism Quartet and The Crossing / “Eternity is a Mysterious Absence of Time and Age” / Gavin Bryars: The Fifth Century / ECM
  8. Alsarah and the Nubatones / “Salam Nubia” / Manara / Wonderwheel Recordings
  9. Sahra Halgan Trio / “Anigoo An Diidayn” / Faransiskiyo Somaliland / Buda Musique
  10. Alaide Costa / “Jura de Pombo” / Rio Samba / Chant Du Monde

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Tom Schnabel