A Winter Gems Playlist

Banner image: Jazz pianist Christian Sands (Photo by Anna Webber)


This week we feature some new sides and reissues that I’m digging, starting with two big band albums with a Latin touch. First, Carlos Henriquez, bassist with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, is out with a new live album recorded at Dizzy’s Club Coco-Cola. We hear a smoking version of the Dizzy Gillespie classic “Night in Tunisia,” with a terrific solo by Chilean-born tenor saxophone player Melissa Aldana. We follow that with a live track from Rubén Blades in concert with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis. They perform a new version of a song Blades made famous years ago with the Fania All Stars—“Sin Tu Cariño” (Without Your Affection).

Christian Sands, the pianist with bassist Christian McBride’s current group, then plays a piece called “Rebel Music,” the opening track from his new trio album Facing Dragons. The young musician recently inherited the role (from the late Geri Allen) of creative ambassador to The Erroll Garner Jazz Project.

We turn next to a Malian group lead by Baba Commandant and the Mandingo Band, conjuring up classic Malian sounds from the 1970’s—although this new one was recorded in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in 2018. This band is up there with immortal groups such as Les Ambassadeurs and the Rail Band, the two groups that launched Salif Keita’s career. We hear the album’s title track, “Siraba Kele,” and below is another track from the record:

Brazilian superstar Jorge Ben’s (now “Jorge Ben Jor”) eponymous first album from 1969 has just been reissued on quality 180 gram vinyl with the original cover image (below). The label got all the little details right with this one. We hear an early hit, “País Tropical” (Tropical Country), which Ben Jor continues to perform in concerts today.

Another album from way back, the 1972 Cadet recording What Color Is Love by the late folk and jazz singer Terry Callier, has also just been reissued on 180 gram quality vinyl by Universal Music Group, which owns the Cadet catalogue. We hear a lushly-orchestrated song called “Dancing Girl.”

Blues crooner/shouter—the one-and-only Howlin’ Wolf (b. Chester Arthur Burnett)—comes next with yet another vinyl reissue of his 1959 Chess LP Moanin’ In the Moonlight. I am very happy to see Universal Music reissuing the Chess and Cadet catalogue, as well as classic albums from the Impulse Records catalogue.

We then move on from reissues and feature a new rendition of the classic “On a Clear Day” by L.A.-based vocalist Monique DeBose. The song was originally sung by Yves Montand and Barbra Streisand in the 1970 movie of the same name, although I’ve always associated it with jazz artists like Sarah Vaughan, Red Garland, and singer Johnny Mathis.

Trumpeter Chris Pasin celebrates Ornette Coleman’s music on his new album Ornettiquette, and I chose the track “Ghosts” for this playlist. Pasin is a superb trumpet player who echoes Don Cherry’s pocket trumpet work, and bassist Michael Bisio channels Charlie Haden’s big gut-string bass lines like a true believer. I think Ornette would like this album.

I finally got some copies of mambo king Eddie Palmieri’s albums on the Ropeadope label, and will close out the playlist with a song called “Cuerdas Y Tumbao” (“Strings and Drum”—although “Tumbao” actually means a basic drum pattern in Latin music). The 80-years-young Palmieri is still a powerhouse of a piano player, orchestrator, and band leader, and this cut proves it.

I hope you enjoy these songs as we slide into the holidays. Stay tuned for more new releases for the next playlist later this month.

Rhythm Planet Playlist for 12/4/18

  1. Carlos Henriquez / “A Night in Tunisia – Live” / Dizzy Con Clave: Live from Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola / Rodbros Music
  2. Rubén Blades & Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis / “Sin Tu Cariño” / Una Noche Con Rubén Blades / Blue Engine Records
  3. Christian Sands / “Rebel Music” / Facing Dragons / Mack Avenue Records
  4. Baba Commandant and the Mandingo Band / “Siraba Kele” / Sira Ba Kele / Sublime Frequencies
  5. Jorge Ben Jor / “País Tropical” / Jorge Ben / Universal Music
  6. Terry Callier / “Dancing Girl” / What Color Is Love / Cadet/UMG
  7. Howlin’ Wolf / “How Many More Years” / Moanin’ In the Moonlight / Geffen Records/UMG
  8. Monique DeBose / “On a Clear Day” / Choose the Experience, Vol. 2: Closer / Monique DeBose
  9. Chris Pasin / “Ghosts” / Ornettiquette / Planet Arts Recordings
  10. Eddie Palmieri / “Cuerdas Y Tumbao” / Sabiduria / Ropeadope

(Christian Sands photo by Anna Webber)