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Taking the High Note

When you look at that picture of Beninese singer Angelique Kidjo, you can just tell that she means business. She's been around for quite a while and as sung with a stellar line-up of talent as equal as hers. And sure, she has a new CD out, in which she partners with another great group of singers (which we'll continue to explore), but because of her majestic status, we've had to raise the bar on this week's World Music Show (2/15/14). Not that we frequently wallow in mediocrity, but upping the level to match Kidjo's status isn't a bad thing.

So where's a good place to start this two-hour show? Why of course with Kidjo herself. Throughout her Grammy-winning career, she's played with artists such as John Legend, Bono, Branford Marsalis and more. On her new CD, Eve, which is named after Kidjos' mother, she partners with some great musicians, including Dr. John, Asa, Kronos Quartet and even with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxemborg--just to name a few. Plus, Kidjo has also had some well-known fans who say:

"The only thing bigger than Angelique Kidjo's voice is her heart," --Bill Clinton

"Angelique's spirit is irrepressible and she brings life to everything she touches," --Peter Gabriel

On the two songs we'll hear, "Hello," and "Bomba," she duets with Trio Teriba and Rostam Batmaglij (Vampire Weekend). Paired with her new CD is a new memoir, too called "Spirit Rising," and it features some great pictures as well as some great recipes that she's culled from her many travels. It's worth picking up.

Paired in the first couple sets of that Kidjo kicks off will be songs from Poto Doudongo, Bidinte, Aura Msimang and guitarist Ali Farka Toure and Kora player Toumani Diabate

From that starting block though, which primarily focuses on music from Africa, we'll jump off and land in India, to highlight some danceable Bollywood music. If you're unfamilar with this style of music, think of Indian film musicals that highlight intense choreographed dancing and romance stories. Off a CD called Dance Raja Dance, we'll the song "Thana Nana," by Dheem Thana. Plus, we'll hear a couple of songs from the famous Indian singer Asha Bhosle, including the songs "Jab Chhaye Mera Jadoo," and the song "Typewriter Tip, Tip, Tip," from the films "The Darjeeling Limited," and originally from the movie "Bombay Talkie." Also wedged into this set will be a high-powered dance tune from Ursula 1000.

Then, closing out the first hour of this week's show--while trying to maintain that high bar we've set, will be some Fuzz Bananas. Ok, let me explain before you think the show just took a nosedive. Fuzz Bananas is the name of a really cool compilation CD of classic Brazilian guitar music. But when I say "classic," I'm actually referring to music from 1967-1976. The producer gave the CD that title because he likened the sound of the guitar sounds he collected to fuzzy bananas--hey, if you're the producer of the CD, you can name your CD whatever you want, right? Off that collection we'll hear a song from the singer (not model) Fabio. Added to the fuzz will be a tracks from Cafe Tacuba and the Brazilian Girls

Now for the second hour, I'm not sure if we'll be able to hold up those enourmous standards that were set for the first hour. Over the past years of the World Music Show, hour two has developed into a more relaxed, cavalier sort of segment. This is not to say that the hour isn't held in high regard or that it's some free-for-all (ok, it kind of is sometimes). But there is still some fluidity and purpose. For instance, they'll be some new music played; and a few of the chunks will even have some groovy themes. 

First up, we'll highlight a couple of songs off a Luaka Bop recored label release called Twenty First Century Twenty First Year. You'll hear the song "Sexy" by Los Amigos Invisibles and a great cover of Blondie's song "Heart of Glass," done French style by Nouvelle Vague. Ending that first set will be the song "Starlight in Daden" by Ekova, which can be found on a 2-disc compilation by Six Degrees called Traveler '00. 

For the newness part of hour two (at least to my ears), we'll hear a couple of excellent German pop/rap songs by the musician/producer CRO, who describes his music as a mix of pop and rap or Raop. Partnered with CRO will actually be a new song from the French trio We Are Enfant Terrible and a cool Rock n' Rol song from the Chinese band Carsick Cars

In the next chunk to follow, we'll perhaps digress or dive into that sort of free-for-all state I mentioned. Periodically on the show, we'll highlight a band or musician, dedicating a set or what I like to call a "mini-salute," to some music that I just love to share. I say digress because I've played this particular artist and his former band before. I'm speaking about David Byrne. Yes, Mr. Byrne has been frequently played on the show, but I hope it's all for a good cause or reason. His music is just so darn good, filled with a multitude of world beats. But don't worry if you're not a big fan--it'll only be a three-song set. We'll hear tracks from his CD Uh Oh, as well as a cool remix of the Talking Head's song "The Lady Don't Mind." Plus, we'll hear how Byrne gets "Fuzzy Freaky"--stay tuned for that.

Supreme Beings of LeisureTo close out the show, we'll head to the lounge. That's right we'll get groovy, funky and electric for you. We'll start off with the Supreme Beings of Leisure then pop over to Pizzicato Five, followed by a track from Cornershop and ending with the band Si-Se

In retrospect, when looking at hour two when compared with the rest of this week's show, in which we treid to take the high note, I think that mission was accomplished. But, this history has yet to listened to. Let me know what you think after you listen. The World Music Show aires Saturday night at from 8:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. on Richmond Public Radio 88.9 WCVE or online via this site. Follow the show on Twitter, @wcveworldmusic