This week we showcase terrific new releases starting with two bright stars on the Cape Verdean music scene—Nancy Vieira and Lucibela. Anyone who has loved the music of the late Cesária Évora will enjoy the music of these two songstresses. I also recommend Elida Almeida, another young Cape Verdean singer whom I’ve featured in recent shows.
I also love the new album by Hermanos Herrera, a family group of siblings (5 brothers and a sister) who live here in Fillmore, California. They perform superb versions of son jarocho and son huasteco classics. We hear “La Morena” (The Dark Woman) in the son jarocho regional style. This musical form originated in Veracruz, Mexico, and features el arpa veracruzana, the Veracruz harp, which gives this style its particular sound and appeal.
We then change gears and hear jazz vocal veteran Kurt Elling tackle Bob Dylan’s powerful ode, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” along with Branford Marsalis and drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts. It’s unusual to hear Dylan songs performed as jazz, but these artists honor the song and its history. Another superb jazz musician, saxophonist Azar Lawrence, follows with the title track from his new album, Elementals. Lawrence plays in the mode of John Coltrane—pure Coltrane—and you can hear ‘Trane’s DNA in every note and in his sound. Although Kamasi Washington has received much attention, I think more people should know about this veteran Coltrane acolyte.
We change gears again and hear sarod master Alam Khan, son of the late master musician Ali Akbar Khan. The sarod sounds more metallic and resonant than the wooden sitar. Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan did more to popularize Indian classical music in the West than anybody else, and Khan’s son Alam keeps the flame alive with this new release.
We conclude today’s show with a Carmen Rizzo remix of a song called “Abshar,” which as far as I can determine means “waterfall” in the Urdu language. The album title Karavan Sarai is a play on the word caravanserai, which is an inn for travelers in the desert regions of Asia or North Africa. The six-track e.p. features just two musicians—the multi-instrumentalist and singer Narayan Sijan (who plays oud, saz, buzuk, setar, baglama, and sings) plus Rizzo, a production wizard featured on keyboard, electronics, drums, and percussion. The piece sounds both ancient and modern, and will surely find its way into clubs and yoga kirtans.
Rhythm Planet Playlist for 3/23/18
- Nancy Vieira / "Porto Inseguro" /Manhã Florida/ Lusafrica
- Lucibela / "Chica di Nha Maninha" / Laço Umbilical / Lusafrica
- Hermanos Herrera / "La Monrena" / Sones Jarochos y Huastecos y Más / Smithsonian Folkways
- Kurt Elling / "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" / The Questions / Okeh
- Azar Lawrence / "Elementals" / Elementals / HighNote
- Alam Khan / "Kaushi Kanra Alap" / Immersion / AMMP
- Karavan Sarai / "Abshar (Carmen Rizzo Remix)" / Painted Sands / Electrofone