Eclectic New Releases

This week we showcase new musical gems that have recently come my way as well as pay tribute to David Axelrod and Al Jarreau. We start with veteran jazz guitarist Steve Khan, covering an Andre Hill song called “Catta.” The album features superb percussion delivered by Marc Quinones and Bobby Allende. We then hear desert blues from the great Tuareg rock band, Tinariwen, from their latest release, Elwan (Elephants), followed by a field recording by Srdjan Beronja, whose new album even includes music by a snake charmer.

Indian slide sitarist Debashish Bhattacharya is next, connecting the Indian slide guitar with Tau Moe, the late slide guitar legend of Hawaii. The Sumo Brothers from Abidjan, Ivory Coast follows with a track that names a lot of famous African and reggae musicians. If you like this track, make sure to get the full-length 2-CD set, rather than the edited version. We then hear Beata Pater, an interesting singer whose overdubbed vocals are rendered spot-on. Normally I don’t like overdubs, but this artist carries it off nicely. I liked the cut, “Sand Dunes.”

Toronto-based super bassist Roberto Occhipinti covers Wayne Shorter’s brilliant classic “Penelope” on the next track. Finally, we remember two artists who passed recently. First, David Axelrod, an inimitable musical genius who painted such magnificent musical canvases back in the late 1960’s, and whose career was revived as top hip hop artists flocked to his work and sampled it. Al Jarreau was a vocal wizard adept in many styles and who won a large audience all over the world. We’ll check out his version of the Sonny Burke-Lionel Hampton classic “Midnight Sun,” which he cut with the great Dutch Metropole Orchestra under the baton of Vince Mendoza. The song has Mercer’s fabulous triple-rhyme lyric—“silver chalice…alabaster palace…aurora borealis.”  Pure genius.

Hope you enjoy this wonderful music.


  1. Steven Khan / “Catta” / Backlog / Tone Center
  2. Tinariwen / “Hayati” / Elwan / Anti/Epitaph
  3. Atul Shankar and Srdjan Beronja / “Tri Mukha Raga Bhairavi Bansuri” / Sounds of the East / Arc Music
  4. Debashish Bhattacharya / “The Island Romance” / Hawaii to Calcutta: A Tribute to Tau Moe / Riverboat
  5. The Sumo Brothers / “I Love Music” / Ivory Coast Soul 2 / Hot Casa Records
  6. Beata Pater / “Sand Dunes” / Fire Dance / B&B Records
  7. Roberto Occhipinti / “Penelope” / Stabilimento / Modica Music
  8. David Axelrod / “Song of Innocence” / Song of Innocence / Stateside (Reissue)
  9. Al Jarreau / “Midnight Sun” / Accentuate the Positive / Verve






Tom Schnabel