Rhythm Planet’s New Music Picks

Banner image: Yo-Yo Ma's Six Evolutions


We begin this week by remembering singer Rachid Taha, the French-Algerian rock star who passed away on September 12 at his home in Paris. In his New York Times obituary, critic Jon Pareles called Taha “a voice for France’s North African and Middle Eastern immigrants in the 1980s as the leader of the group Carte de Séjour, singing in Arabic about immigration, injustice and racism.” In the video below, Rachid Taha performs what has become the unofficial anthem of homecoming for the Algerian diaspora, “Ya Rayah” (You Will Return). This 1998 performance in a Swiss club came on the heels of his hit album Diwan.

We next listen to the incomparable Cécile McLorin Salvant, a fabulous singer equally at home with modern jazz, early New Orleans blues, or music from pre-Renaissance France. The track “One Step Ahead” comes from her new duet album with pianist Sullivan Fortner.

Nadine Sierra (Photo © Paola Kudacki)

After that we feature a young soprano named Nadine Sierra, singing Heitor Villa-Lobos’s “Melodia Sentimental” from the composer’s final work, Forest of the Amazon from 1959. Check out the final high note, sure to levitate you.

Lead by singer Karla Kanora, the group Rio Mira is a collaborative effort between artists from Ecuador and Colombia. The title of their new album Marimba del Pacifico (from the very cool ZZK label) comes from the name of the Rio Mira river that runs from Ecuador into Colombia.

L.A.-based French horn player Ken Wiley’s new album incudes a wonderful version of the classic song “Black Orchid,” originally made famous by the Three Sounds and by Cal Tjader’s later version. The album’s beauty is amplified by the terrific arrangements and flute work from Dan Higgins.

Master cellist and humanitarian Yo-Yo Ma has recorded all six Bach solo cello suites for the third and final time. His new album provides the unifying musical theme for a two-year, 36-city world tour called The Bach Project that Ma has recently embarked on, taking Bach all over the world to promote harmony through music.

More classical music follows, with an early recording of Indian sarod master Ali Akbar Khan, who along with Ravi Shankar did more to spread the gospel of Indian classical music than any other artist. The new Rough Guide compilation features the track “Darbari Kanada (Jod)” from early 78 rpm sessions. The sarod sounds deeper, more resonant than its sibling the sitarand I have always loved its sound.

Paul Simon reworks many of his hit songs on a new album called In the Blue Light, and we feature a new version of “René and Georgia Magritte with Their Dog After the War,” originally released in 1983.

Drummer Jay Lawrence has assembled a great band for his new album, Sonic Paragon, with jazz stars such as Renee Rosnes, bassist John Pattitucci, trumpeter Terrell Staffort, and triple-threat guitarists Anthony Wilson, Yotam Silbertstein, and Romero Lubambo. We hear their version of the ever-funky New Orleans classic “Tchoupitoulas,” a nod to the classic bayou band The Wild Tchoupitoulas.

We wrap up this week’s set with a track from Detroit pianist Xavier Davis, working with a string quartet. He’s recorded over 50 albums ever since he was spotted by the late great singer Betty Carter, who hired him on the spot.

We hope you enjoy this mostly new musical mix, and rest assured that Rhythm Planet will serve up more new releases very, very soon.

Rhythm Planet Playlist 9/18/18

  1. Rachid Taha / “Ya Rayah” / Diwan (Live) / Wrasse Records
  2. Cécile McLorin Salvant / “One Step Ahead” / The Window / Mack Avenue
  3. Nadine Sierra / “Floresta do Amazonas, W551 – 4. Melodia Sentimental” / There’s a Place for Us/ Deutsche Grammophone
  4. Rio Mira / “Niña Elena” / Marimba del Pacifico / ZZK Records
  5. Ken Wiley / “Black Orchid” / Cuerno Exotica / Krug Park Music
  6. Yo-Yo Ma / “Unaccompanied Cello Suite in No. 1 in G Major, I. Prélude” / Six Evolutions – Bach: Cello Suites/ Sony Classical
  7. Ali Akbar Khan / “Darbari Kanada (Jod)” / Rough Guide to Ali Akbar Khan/ World Music Network
  8. Paul Simon / “Réne and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War” / In the Blue Light/ Legacy Recordings
  9. Jay Lawrence / “Tchoupitouias” / Sonic Paragon / Jazz Hang Records
  10. Xavier Davis / “Detroit Underground” / Rise Up Detroit / Detroit Music Factory

Cécile McLorin Salvant photo by Mark Fitton