Rhythm Planet’s eclectic playlist this week features a crop of new releases, starting with the wonderful cross-cultural alchemy of Swedish guitarist Sousou and Senegal’s kora virtuoso Maher Cissoko, who now resides in Sweden. Sousou also plays the kora, and is one of the few female kora players in the world.
The versatile and worldly group Pink Martini gives us a cover of Miriam Makeba’s famous song “Pata Pata” from Putumayo’s Kid’s African Party, which also includes music from Nigeria, Kenya, Algeria, Zimbabwe, plus other African nations.
The next song features the virtuosic and entrancing The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices with Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance. This new album from the Bulgarian choir collective has been a long time coming—20 years in fact.
The Brooklyn-based Persian funk band Mitra Sumara reinterprets the music of pre-revolutionary Iranian singers such as Googoosh. There is no lyric translation, but I’m pretty sure the Tehran government would condemn the music as heretical. The band’s name means “The light of our friendship” in Farsi.
Croatian countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic follows with an Italian baroque aria sung with his typical bravado and poise. I think even Liberace would pale in comparison to Cencic’s sartorial splendor. But don’t let that distract from the fact that he is a world-class performer of operatic arias.
We next feature a track from the late Jóhann Jóhannsson’s very first record from way back in 2002, Englabörn, in a remastered 2018 release from Deutsche Grammaphon. The music was originally commissioned for a play by Hávar Sigurjánsson, and the double-CD also includes outtakes plus reworks by Jóhannsson, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and others. We hear the short and haunting “Krókódíll."
Jazz and tropical Latin music make up the rest of the program this week. We hear a beautiful bolero from Puerto Rican singer Juan Pablo Díaz called “A Tu Lado” (By Your Side), from his new album Fase Dos (Phase Two). New York-based Cuban pianist Dayramir Gonzalez recently released his U.S. debut album The Grand Concourse. We hear the track “Camello Tropical” (Tropical Camel). It’s a funny name for a song.
Mexican jazz drummer Antonio Sánchez collaborates with the German WDR Big Band and arranger/conductor Vince Mendoza on a big new double-CD set of his own compositions called Channels of Energy. Sánchez has toured and recorded with Pat Metheny for 17 years and keeps busy with his own group, Migration. He composed the score for the 2014 film BiRDMAN.
To wrap up the show, we hear from Oscar Hernandez’s Spanish Harlem Orchestra (SHO), now celebrating its 15th anniversary. A Grammy-winning Latin orchestra, the SHO features top guest talent from Paul Simon to Rubén Blades, and others. I loved Oscar’s playing as part of Rubén Blades great band Seis del Solar back in the 1980’s, with timeless albums such as Buscando America (Searching for America).
Rhythm Planet Playlist for 5/4/18
- Sousou & Maher Cissoko / "Bour Yalla" / Made of Music / Jaliya Connection/Ajabu!
- Pink Martini / "Pata Pata" / Kid's African Party / Putumayo
- The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices / "Mani Yanni (feat. Lisa Gerrard)" / BooCheeMish / Prophecy
- Mitra Sumara/ "Sahre Paiz" / Tahdig / Persian Cardinal Recordings
- Max Emanuel Cencic / "Ezio/Act 1: Se tu la reggi al volo" / Porpora: Opera Arias / Decca London
- Jóhann Jóhannsson / "Krókódíll" / Englabörn & Variations / Deutsche Grammophone
- Juan Pablo Díaz / "A Tu Lado" / Fase Dos / Juanpi Música
- Dayramir Gonzalez / "Camello Tropical" (feat. Nadia Washington) / The Grand Concourse / Machat Records
- Antonio Sanchez / "Minotauro" / Channels of Energy / Cam Jazz
- Spanish Harlem Orchestra / "Guaracha y Bembe" / Anniversary / ArtistShare