Michael Crockett’s Top 10 Picks for 2011
Friday 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., Sunday 10:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
1. Kiran Ahluwalia- Aam Zameen: Common Ground
This Indian singer, raised in Canada, always includes some non-Indian instrumentation in her recordings. On this CD, the African desert blues sound of the Tuareg groups Tinariwen and Terakaft blend wonderfully with the traditional Punjabi ghazals (love poems) she sings.
2. Aster Aweke- Checheho
Exiled Ethiopian singer Aster Aweke continues to be the most popular singer among Ethiopians at home and abroad. People often compare her to Aretha Franklin due to her soaring voice and the Memphis horns-like backing her bands provide.
3. Calle 13- Entren Los Que Quieran
These Puerto Rican socially-conscious rappers continue to expand their musical horizons by collaborating with international artists like Nigeria’s Seun Kuti on an Afrobeat track and Latin divas Susana Baca (Peru), Toto La Momposina (Colombia), and Maria Rita (Brazil) on an anthem for Latin America. There’s also a raucous merengue to party to and a whole lot more. They deservedly dominated the Latin Grammys this year with this album.
4. Echocentrics- Sunshadows
It’s always a pleasure to be able to include a local release in my Top 10, and local musician/producer Adrian Quesada (Grupo Fantasma, Brownout, Ocote Soul Sounds) seems to come up with something annually for my list. Of course, this Latin electronica release is hardly local in scope, in that it features Brazilian singer Tita Lima and Argentinian singer Natalia Clavier.
5. Pedro Luis Ferrer- Tangible
I’ve always been a fan of this Cuban troubadour, and he does not disappoint with his latest album which is only available digitally. Ferrer is a wonderfully poetic lyricist with a unique voice, but you don’t have to speak Spanish to enjoy his traditional Cuban music rooted in acoustic instrumentation, like the Cuban tres guitar, but often accentuated by brass and piano.
6. Karsh Kale- Cinema
Indian-American musician, producer, and film composer handles all of the Western instrumentation and electronics on these “cinematic” songs which feature various Indian vocalists (Anne Rani, Vidhi Sharma, Shahid Siddiqui, Papon Angaraad, Shruti Pathak, others) and instrumentalists.
7. Los Chicharrons- Roots Of Life
A Latin and European production duo (Ramon Santana/Morten Varano) put this recording together using mainly Malian singers and musicians and mixing West African instruments like the balafon & kora with keyboards & brass, all backed by African, Latin & electronic beats.
8. Rogê- Fala Brasil
After enjoying this Rio De Janeiro native’s charismatic solo show at SXSW this year, I was anxious to hear his latest CD and have had a hard time not playing it every week since on Horizontes. The opening track, “Fala Brasil,” has become the unofficial show opener. A great mix of bossa nova, samba & reggae.
9. Sergent Garcia,Una Y Otra Vez
Fans of Manu Chao take note. Bruno “Sergent” Garcia has the same multi-national, multi-lingual, punk and indie-rock credentials, but his musical palette is larger, including not only reggae, but salsa and cumbia as well. Much of this CD was inspired by and recorded in Colombia, where he was joined by musicians Bomba Estereo, Sidestepper, La Mojarra Electrica and others.
10. Various Artists- Red Hot + Rio 2
The first volume of this AIDS charity compilation was a wonderful revisit of the bossa nova classics of the sixties by various Brazilian and international stars. This 2-CD second volume is an update on the Brazilian tropicalia hits of the seventies performed by even more ambitious and numerous international pairings like Beck + Seu Jorge, Forro in the Dark + Angelique Kidjo, and David Byrne + Caetano Veloso, Los Van Van + Carlinhos Brown to name a few.