This week’s Rhythm Planet music mix reprises an hour’s worth of mostly recent releases that I’m enjoying. In the first set we begin with gnawa music (Moroccan trance music) from oud and guembri player Majid Bekkas, in a lively remix version of the song, “Mrhaba” (originally from the 2001 album African Gnaoua Blues which is also fantastic). We transition into flamenco superstar Vicente Amigo, who put on a stirring show last month in Los Angeles.
After that, an Indian-Persian fusion collaboration featuring master sitarist Shujaat Khan, Iranian vocalist Katayoun Goudarzi, along with Rolling Stones saxophonist Tim Ries, jazz pianist Kevin Hays, and Indian percussionist Dibyarka Chatterjee. India and ancient Persia have many historical ties including that of music. For instance, the ghazal (a sentimental poetic ballad, not unlike a bolero) arrived on the Silk Route from Persia to India many centuries ago.
We follow with another fusion piece that mixes east and west in an imaginative way. The versatile quartet Quadro Nuevo joins forces with German-Egyptian ensemble Cairo Steps for an Egypian-style version of Erik Satie’s “Gnossienne #1.”
Next we feature a crazy new album from L’Arpeggiata and Christina Pluhar called Handel Goes Wild. It’s got tablas, a fine chamber group, and a countertenor improvising on G.F. Handel’s music. This is a wonderful and really fun album. Tops on my crossover classical list.
Two fine new jazz guitar releases from veterans Russell Malone and Tom Guarna come next. Malone’s “Time for the Dancers” is delicate and beautifully choreographed, while Guarna’s “Modules” is a more straight-ahead blowing session where he once again demonstrates his superb chops and melodic invention.
We close with a Cuban descarga (jam session) featuring flutist Richard Egües (of Orq. Aragon), pianist Juan Carlos Alfonso, timbalero Amadito Valdés, and other fine musicians. It’s from a fantastic compilation album released a while ago but I had to share it again. Other top musicians featured on the album include pianist Frank Emilio, bassist Cachaito, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and more. If you’re a fan of Buena Vista Social Club, this album will blow your roof off.