This week on Rhythm Planet, I have a bunch of new releases that I’ve been wanting to share with you guys, as my ever-expanding stack of CDs in my To Play bin just seems to keep growing on me (in both senses of the term), so let’s get started!
We begin our show with a collective of musicians from Spain, Japan, Russia, Italy and the U.S.—all currently based in Brooklyn. Drawing from their unique cultural backgrounds for their eclectic sound, the group have appropriately named themselves the Brooklyn Gypsies. “Desert Moon” with its great world groove grabbed me right away.
Our next track is an improbable one: AGULA. The title track is symbolic, in that it takes its name from an old Mongolian word for ‘mountain’—geographical features that the landscapes of both Mongolia (for its Altai range) and Switzerland (the Alps) share in common. The AGULA: Swiss-Mongolian Music Exchange Project is the Heiri Känzig Quintet and the Arga Bileg ethno-jazz band. From the Mongolian khöömii throat singing, morin khuur (horse head fiddle), yatga (plucked zither) to Känzig’s double bass, the accordion, flugelhorn and western vocals, this is world music fusion at its best! In fact, I was so taken by this album that I wrote a post about the AGULA project earlier this week.
Peripatetic drummer Terri Lyne Carrington is next, with her smoldering version of Jimi Hendrix’s classic “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” featuring Moroccan trance drummers, the three-stringed rectangular guimbri, and the hot guitar of Vietnamese-French jazz composer, Nguyên Lê.
A few weeks ago, John Pirozzi, the director of the documentary, Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll, joined me as a guest on Rhythm Planet. It’s a must-see film about Cambodian pop music from the 1950–1960s, with an equally fabulous soundtrack to accompany it. This time, I thought I’d feature surf guitar band Baksey Cham Krong’s “B.C.K.”
Three Latin tunes follow next. First, we have Colombian crossover artist, Eduardo Martínez, who recently performed at the Aratani World Series’ L.A. Cumbia Festival. Next, we’ll listen to some mambo from Puerto Rican Carlos D’Castro, with his catchy “A Los Muchachos de Belen.” Following in his father’s footsteps, young Carlos is the son of Alex D’Castro, “The Tenor of Salsa.” Then Grammy Award-winning Cuban clarinet and saxophone virtuoso Paquito d’Rivera will round off our set with “Zumolandia.”
Next up, I’ll feature tribute albums to two of the greatest jazz composer/arrangers: Gil Evans and Gary McFarland. These two jazz giants are still held in the highest esteem by even today’s jazz musicians. Just listen to the respect that composer/producer Ryan Truesdell and The Gary McFarland Legacy Ensemble proffer in these two tracks.
Two new albums have been recently released by two of my favorite pianists: Gerald Clayton, who is accompanied on the song, “When an Angel Sheds a Feather,” by vocalists Sachal Vasandani and Gretchen Parlato; and then a track off Bay Area-based Cuban pianist Omar Sosa’s new album Ilé, which translates to mean ‘home’ in Lucumí. It’s a gorgeous album that takes its roots in Afro-Cuban jazz.
And finally, we’ll end our show with a lovely number, titled “Black Butterfly,” that is based on pianist George Cables’s “Ebony Moonbeams,” a tune written back in 1975. It’s reprised here with vocals by Gillian Margot.
I hope you enjoy this week’s Rhythm Planet cavalcade of new releases! More coming next week, so stay tuned!!