The week on disc (20)

In case you missed the last one

Huong Thanh & Nguyên Lê, Fragile Beauty (ACT): A three-hour rain delay on the JFK tarmac caused me to miss Huong Thanh’s concert at last week’s Fes Festival. But I’d forgotten about this gem of a disc sitting on my shelf, a truly odd mix of traditional Vietnamese instruments/vocals and fusion guitar. Thumbs up.
Wynton Marsalis, From the Plantation to the Penitentiary (Blue Note): I know what you’re thinking and I don’t care. This got one star in Downbeat from my friend James Hale, and with all due respect…. It came out a while ago but I feel the need to say it’s the best thing Wynton has done in years. Jennifer Sanon’s singing is excellent. The vocal intervals and horn counterpoint on the title track are badass. I don’t think there’s a weak track, or at least an uninteresting one.
Erykah Badu, New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) (Universal Motown): “As sure is all and all is one / We all should grow before its done / So I salute you Farrakhan, yes / Cuz you are me.” Blech. Fascinating album from start to finish, though.
Felipe Salles, South American Suite (Curare): Vibrant and ambitious writing, mostly for octet, by the young Brazilian saxophonist, featuring up-and-coming reedist Jacam Manricks and underrated Los Guachos bassist Fernando Huergo, whose new Sunnyside effort Provinciano awaits a listen as well.
Phil Markowitz, Catalysis (Sunnyside): A rare trio showcase from the superb mid-career pianist, who’s often overshadowed by the top horn players he accompanies (Liebman, Mintzer). Shadowy, mysterious, swinging stuff, all Markowitz originals, with Jay Anderson on bass and Adam Nussbaum on drums.
Nass El Ghiwane, Hommage à Boudjemma (Ouhmane): I bought this and one other (Transe Musique du Maroc) at a bootleg stall in the Fes Medina. And a friend just sent me Essamta. The band played for free in Boujloud Square on my last day in Fes, and I just can’t describe the pandemonium among the crowd. These guys are heroes to a wide cross section of the Moroccan public, and they’re not a watered-down pop act by any stretch. Their sound involves the deep, fuzzy toned guimbri or sintir, banjos instead of ouds (easier to tune and amplify), percussion galore, and last but not least, infectious Arabic vocals designed for unison shouting from the masses.

Leave a Reply