January 18th, 2018
Now that we have 2017 behind us, we’d like to take a look at the countries in the African continent, in Latin America and India and learn a little more about some of them. We realize traveling to these destinations may not be possible, but we can agree that one way of appreciating their cultures is through their music. To guide us on this musical journey, we’ve invited our guest blogger and music aficionado, Tom Schnabel, to share with us a list of his favorites.
Rhythm Planet wrapped up 2017 by revisiting some of the best of world music from the past year. Five wonderful African albums made the list, beginning with the powerful female collective Les Amazones d’Afrique in a track featuring Angelique Kidjo (video at bottom), plus Senegal’s soulful Orchestra Baobab, and Mali’s Trio da Kali’s brilliant pairing with the Kronos Quartet. Then it’s the vocal artistry of Toto Bona Lokua, aka Frenchman Gérard Toto, Cameroun’s Richard Bona, and Congolese singer Lokua Kanza, and lastly the trio 3MA featuring Mali’s Ballaké Sissoko, Moroccan oud virtuoso Driss El Maloumi, and Madagascar’s valiha player Rajery.
We turn next to a good example of musical cross-pollination with India’s master sitar player Shujaat Khan and Iranian vocalist Katayoun Goudarzi, together exploring the Persian-Indian music connection that formed centuries ago along the spice route. After that, let’s check out a tribute to G.F. Handel from L’Arpeggiata with some crazy twists—it’s “crossover classical” at its best.
We switch gears and close the 2017 highlights show with the hot Latin band La Mambanegra from Cali, Colombia, followed by a young Cape Verdean star named Elida Almeida, who just released her third successful album.
I hope you like these picks as much as I do. They represent, however, only a fraction of all the terrific world music I’ve enjoyed over the past twelve months. You can revisit, on demand, all the Rhythm Planet shows from 2017 (and earlier) on the KCRW website or on the KCRW app to hear more of the great world music from the past year.
Tom Schnabel, M.A.
Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Blogs for Rhythm Planet
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons