This week’s Rhythm Planet again celebrates some great music from times past. We start with the great 1962 Columbia recording of the great and under-appreciated Oscar Brown Jr., a song that once was the theme song for a show on jazz radio station KBCA in the 1960s. We follow with a classic from the great trumpeter Roy Eldridge, “Ain’t No Flies on Me”, recorded in Paris for Vogue Records in 1950. American jazz musicians always sound great on records made in France…partly because they were esteemed as artists in a great American medium and were treated like royalty. Next, we move to the newest entry is from Melody Gardot, just a few years old, but it’s such a beautiful love song I wanted to again give it some attention. Djurdjura was a group of Algerian Berber sisters who made this record in 1983. They were forced to leave Algeria because of their progressive views on women’s place in society. David Byrne reissued some of their songs on his Luaka Bop label. This song is anthemic and powerful, yet always gentle.

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Rhythm Planet Playlist: 7/19/13

  1. Oscar Brown Jr. / Mr. Kicks / Kicks! The Best of Oscar Brown Jr. / Columbia
  2. Roy Eldridge / Ain’t No Flies On Me / Little Jazz / Vogue
  3. Melody Gardot / If The Stars Were Mind / My One & Only Thrill / Verve
  4. Djurdjura / Les Heritiers De L’Avenir (Heirs Of The Future) / A Yemma / Musidisc
  5. Tshala Muana / Emony / Biduaya / Celluloid Records
  6. Chet Baker / Send In The Clowns Feat. Van Morrison / Live At Ronnie Scott’s / Wadham Film
  7. David Sylvian & Ryuichi Sakamoto / World Citizen – I Won’t Be Disappointed (Short Version) / World Citizen (EP) / Samadhisound
  8. Paul De Marinis/ Fonetica Francese / Music As A Second Language / Lovely Music
  9. Groove Armada / Healing (Featuring Richie Havens) / Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub) / Jive Electro Records
  10. Luka Bloom / Miracle CureInnocence / Big Sky
  11. Laurie Anderson / New York Social Life / New Music For Electronic & Recorded Media / 1750 Arch St. Records
  12. Idrissa Diop / LÓiseau / Rebelle / Musicdisc
  13. John Coltrane / AfricaThe Complete Africa/Brass Sessions / Impulse

Tshala Muana is a top Congolese vocalist and her love song “Emony” has always been a personal favorite. Chet Baker and Van Morrison perform a rare version of Steven Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns” from a 1968 show at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London. It was part of a video shot there, and appears to have been reissued.

I’ve always enjoyed the collaborations between David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto; Sylvian has such an unusual voice and I find it captivating. Paul De Marinis’s “Fonetica Francese” (French Phonetics, a language lesson) has a strange but intoxicating appeal. We follow with a powerful song from the late Richie Havens and Groove Armada, a song that got a lot of play in the wake of 9/11. Luka Bloom’s song is a good complement for it.

We get a little schizophrenic here (or maybe just eclectic) with a rare 1977 cut by Laurie Anderson, followed by Senegalese artist Idrissa Diop and the amazing 1961 recording of John Coltrane’s anthemic “Africa”. The song was recorded at a time when there was much optimism about newly-independent African countries. American jazz artists, already watching the Civil Rights movement and Jim Crow in the South, were also watching the new Africa bloom. Coltrane’s improvisations are impossibly virtuosic; there had never been anything quite like it before. Coltrane studied Indian music and scales with Ravi Shankar, African music and culture with Nigerian Babatunde Olatunji, read Nicolas Slonimsky’s exhaustive Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns, as well as George Russell’s influential Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization. This was in addition to a thorough knowledge of Western harmony and theory, and a comprehensive awareness of jazz music past and present. All this gave Coltrane the tools to realize his amazing virtuosity and creative genius. Coltrane and pianist McCoy Tyner worked out the orchestrations, Eric Dolphy conducted. It’s an unforgettable tour de force.

And so we have a panoply of music from 1950 until 2009, with music from Algeria, Senegal, Algeria, the U.S., Congo, and Ireland, from pop to jazz to world.  I hope you enjoy this timeless music.

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