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New Music Discoveries

This week’s Rhythm Planet playlist showcases an eclectic array of new releases and rediscoveries that deserve some love. I’ll highlight a few here in the post, but see below for a list of all of the music in the extended playlist or just give it a listen!

Malian superstar Salif Keita is out with a new album called Un Autre Blanc (Another White Man) that he says will be his last. The title refers to the fact that Keita is an albino, an African with white skin. Other African music includes tracks from Gabon’s Pierre Akedengué and a reissue of the classic album from Egyptian artist Ali Hassan Kuban, From Nubia to Cairo. Rising Ethiopian singer Minyeshu sings a wonderful song from her new album Daa Dee.

Portuguese/Cape Verdean singer Lura keeps the spirit of the late Cesária Évora alive with her beautiful renditions of sad mornas and the upbeat funaná and coladeira for which the Cape Verdean archipelago is known. Lura was studying sports education in Lisbon when Juka, a successful singer from São Tome, asked her to sing with him. She resisted, but finally was won over. Her deep, sensual voice is part and parcel of makes Cape Verdean music so unique. We hear from her latest EP called Alguem di Alguem.

On other world music fronts, we hear the trance-inducing music of Tunisian-born, France-based singer/oud master Dhafer Youssef from his new album Sounds of Mirrors. Another oud master is there, too—Turkish musician Ozan Aksoy, performing an instrumental he calls “Hope.” Haitian-American singer Malou Beauvoir sings the song “Papa Loko” from her album Spiritwalker, which calls for unity through spiritual awakening.

Moving on to jazz, we feature The King and I’s lovely song “Hello Young Lovers” from pianist Alan Pasqua’s latest album plus Rubén Blades’s new album with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Vibraphonist Joe Locke and singer Raul Midón together perform a powerful song called “Motherless Children.” French pianist Dexter Goldberg plays a cut “A Chord Into Me” from his new album, showing his piano artistry as well as his gift for puns (ahem). The latest from Hard Rubber Orchestra features the late trumpet wizard Kenny Wheeler with U.K. singer Norma Winstone. We include a song from Israeli guitarist Gilad Hekselman dedicated to Milton Nascimento, called simply “Milton.”

Latin music includes one from Cuban superstar José Alberto “El Canario” with Septeto Santiaguero as well as the Hip Spanic All Stars’s tribute to a classic 1960’s Chevrolet, “In My 64.” And not to forget Brazil, we hear a singer named Roberta Sá from Natal in the north of Brazil, whose fetching sound has made me a new fan.

I hope you enjoy this first playlist of the year. Stay tuned for more next week!