1. Africando – Viva Africando (Sterns): African musicians excel at making great tropical latin music, and this new cd by the PuertoRican / Cuban / African band Africando features great musicianship and top singers like Sekouba Bambino and Medoune Diallo, with top latin musicians brought to Paris from New York by the great bandleader of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Oscar Hernandez. A brian child of the Quincy Jones of West African music, the great Ibrahim Syllart. The last cut features superb playing by Hernandez’ Spanish Harlem Orchestra.
2. David Hazeltine Trio – Impromptu (Chesky): One of the best jazz piano trios to come out; George Mraz on bass, Jason Brown, drums. Usually jazz improvisations on classical themes come out rather lame; this album is a big exception. Superb and hip renditions of Debussy, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, all of whom told me they were really happy with the results.
3. Titina – Canta B. Leza (Astral): Titina is an old school Cape Verdean singer, of the same generation of Cesaria Evora. B. Leza is a famous Cape Verdean songwriter, doubly famous because his name means beautiful (Beleza) in Portuguese. For any fans of Cape Verdean music, this will be a delightful discovery.
4. Stefano Bollani & Hamilton de Holanda – O Que Será (ECM): a tour de force live recording from Antwerp, Flanders, Belgium has the accomplished duo (piano and bandolim, a 10 string mandolin) playing rapid fire but precisely. A finely filigreed musical tapestry if there ever was one.
5. Geir Lysne – New Circle (Act): Interesting new album from Norwegian saxman features African and Vietnamese musicians and a crack group of young jazz talents as well. Huong Thanh, top Vietnames singer and West African Solo Cissoko are featured as well. A nice blend of jazz with world music elements.
6. Orchestre El Gusto – El Gusto: This Algerian collective, born in the Casbah of Algiers in the 1950s, features great musicians, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, reunited after being separated by the Algerian war of independence. The brainchild of Safinez Bousbiah, who also made a documentary on this Algerian version of the Buena Vista Social Club. Those out there who saw them in concert are lucky. For me it was the best show of the Summer.
7. Jazz Experiments of Charles Mingus (Verse): Very interesting early album of Mingus originally on Bethlehem. It shows once again what an unusual musician Charlie Mingus was, and how original and different his compositions and music were from many of his contemporaries. Originally issued on Bethlehem in the 1950s.
8. Tal National – Kaani (Fat Cat): For those listeners who like Tinariwen, Bombino, Terakaft and that big Saharan modal groove, this new album is a must.
9. Mike Ledonne Trio – Speak (Cellar Live): Superb live jazz trio album featuring John Webber on bass and Joe Farnsworth, drums. Three fantastic musicians, good recording, in a program of standards and originals. I’ve followed Mike’s work for some time and esteem his musicianship and musical thinking as well.
10. Pandir Debashish Bhattacharya – Madeira (+FE Music/Hard Boiled): If Music Could Intoxicate (Tridev Music India) Some classical Hindustani music from this Indian master, leavened with some shorter ghazals, or love songs. I was smitten by “Colours of Lvoe” in particular. Dreamy and utterly romantic.
11. Neuza – Flor Di Bila (Lusafrica): A new Cape Verdean singer of the generation after Titina and Cesaria. Adept at singing classical Cape Verdean songs but waitressing to make a living, Neuza gave in to her love of music and started singing while at work. The rest is history, and hence her auspicious debut on the same label that gave us Cesaria Evora, based in Paris and run by José de Silva, who brought fame to Cesaria.
12. Various Artists – The Road to Jajouka, A Benefit Album (Howe Records): A who’s who of Moroccan music, featuring classic recordings by Ornette Coleman, Bill Laswell, Aïyb Dieng, Bachir Attar, Marc Ribot, and others. Veteran film composer Howard Shore even contributes a song which was powerful and moving.
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