This week, we listen to a mix of terrific new releases beginning with two cutting-edge African music albums that I highlighted in a post earlier this week—the all-female collective, Les Amazones d’Afrique and the UK/Nigerian band Imbibio Sound Machine. Les Amazones’ theme is female anti-discrimination and empowerment in Africa, and the album includes stars like Angélique Kidjo, Kandia Kouyate, and other top Malian singers. We'll hear a track that features Angélique Kidjo. Imbibio Sound Machine is led by the UK-born, Nigeria-raised Eno Williams, who infuses the album with energetic dance grooves, African music, and contemporary production.
We then hear a track from Aurelio Martinez, a multi-faceted artist from Honduras. Martinez previously served as a congressman in Honduras, and is currently the leading exponent of Garifuna culture. The Garifunas originated with a shipload of West African slaves who washed ashore in the early 1600’s onto the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. Eventually Garifuna descendants made their way to Honduras and Belize, where they reside today. With the untimely death of Andy Palacio in 2008, Martinez has assumed the mantle of trying to perpetuate both the music and culture of this unusual and little-known New World culture.
Rhiannon Giddens started with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, but is now out on her own with a second album, Freedom Highway. The themes of slavery and freedom form part and parcel of this beautifully recorded and produced album.
Veteran jazz vocalist Carmen Lundy’s new album is called Code Noir, and the song we'll hear—“Black and Blues”—protests against police brutality. The album features top-notch jazz vets like pianist Patrice Rushen.
Jazz guitar veteran Kevin Eubanks plays next, with a fine new Mack Avenue release. Many know him best from his tenure as music director on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno."
Sweden’s Little Dragon, featuring singer Yukimi Nagano, is next with a single, “High.” Her vocal style reminds me a lot of Prince.
We end with a “United Nations” type of band, Amine & Hamza, The Band Beyond Borders. Amine and Hamza Mraihi are Tunisian musician brother who play the oud and kanun. They are joined on the album by musicians from India, Sweden, Switzerland, and other countries. In this time of suspicion and xenophobia, music continues to bring people together and to promote mutual trust and understanding.
Hope you enjoy this new music mix!
Rhythm Planet Playlist for 3/10/17:
- Les Amazones D'Afrique featuring Angélique Kidjo / "Dombolo" / République Amazone / Real World
- Imbibio Sound Machine / "Sunray" / Uyai / Merge Records
- Aurelio Martinez / "Sielpa" / Darandi / Stonefree - Real World
- Rhiannon Giddens / "At the Purchaser's Option" / Freedom Highway / Nonesuch
- Carmen Lundy / "Black and Blues" / Code Noir / Afrasia Productions
- Kevin Eubanks / "Something About Nothing" / East West Time Line / Mack Avenue Records
- Little Dragon / "High" / High (single) / Loma Vista Recordings
- Amine & Hamza, The Band Beyond Borders / "Spleen" / Fertile Paradoxes / ARC Music