Thursday, November 30, 2006


Jacob Pick Bittencourt, aka Jacob do Bandolim, was one of 20th-century Brazil's greatest composers, as well as a crack bandolim player. Here's one of his most famous pieces, Assanhado, played by Trio Madeira Brasil and percussionist Beto Cazes.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

for kordofan and darfur

Violence rages in Sudan. For those caught up in it, I offer this song by Abdel Gadir Salim. It's called Maqtool Hawaki Ya Kordofan, and tells of his love for the land and its people.

May God grant them true peace.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

le grand inconnu

Trumpeter Ignace de Souza led the Black Santiagos, one of the most important bands on Ghana's 1960s highlife scene. De Souza's relaxed style and affinity for Cuban music make his music a standout. Here's one of his hits, Augustina.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

fim do mundo

This haunting Brazilian song, No Rancho Fundo, tells of solitude, longing (aka saudade) and lost love. Here, bandolim master Hamilton de Holanda plays it solo.

chelsea bridge

It seems like a perfect evening for a jazz nocturne - what could be better than Billy Strayhorn's Chelsea Bridge, with Ben Webster's tenor sax solos and the haunting trombone line?

* Painting by Camille Pissarro

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Italian guitarist Simone Guiducci is a real favorite of mine. His interweaving of Italian folk music and jazz makes for performances that are both lyrical and gutsy. This cut, Gramelot in 6/8, is a case in point.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Amália Rodrigues made this song famous. Now, Mariza recreates it. It's called Barco Negro.

* Painting by Eberhard Schlotter

Thursday, November 16, 2006

um povo chocolate-e-mel

Gilberto Gil celebrates black Brazilian culture in this song, Refavela, from the album of the same title.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

warsaw bandoneón

Moody, melancholy, Romantic (note the capital R) music from Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko's album From the Green Hill. It's perfect for a November night. (I'm featuring the title track here.)


An early pop-style rumba from the Lecuona Cuban Boys, titled Tabou.

Friday, November 10, 2006

torch & twang

New Orleans singer/guitarist Snooks Eaglin was sometimes billed as "Little Ray Charles," but this track shows another, hidden side of his work - his mastery of acoustic blues.

Song: St. James Infirmary

ya habibi

Algerian singer Bachir Sahraoui celebrates the women of Oran in Kehlet Laayan Bent Ouahren (L'oranaise aux yeux noirs). The raspy-sounding flute is called a gasbah.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

bebop samba

Gal Costa singing a famously cheeky satirical song by Jackson do Pandeiro (in photo), who poked fun at "Tio Sam," wanting to see him dance and play samba on Copacabana beach. It's called Chiclete com banana.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

fe na ne

Iko Iko is one of the best-known Mardi Gras songs - but not that many people realize that it came from the masking Indians.

The lyrics are somewhat garbled today, but a flag boy is still an essential part of every tribe.

One of my favorite things about this version - by the Dixie Cups - "found" percussion (drumsticks on a glass ashtray).

Saturday, November 04, 2006

blues negres

Cleoma Falcon was a pioneer - the first person to record a song in Cajun French. I fell hard for this cut, Blues Negres - the raw, rough sound is part of the charm here, I think.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

o bahia

Caetano Veloso sings Ary Barroso's famous samba Na Baixa do Sapateiro. The lyrics tell of a captivating baiana.

* Photo by Sheila Thomson