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From Mali To Montreal & Green Gardens: The Evolución

the world music beat

Each month, Joshua Lebofsky (NMW World Music Editor), secludes himself in a hotel room somewhere in the world and puts together a playlist that will blow your socks off. This is great music.

The playlist is a carefully curated selection of modern World Music releases. With one throwback track.

It’s World Music from the recent past right up to new releases. We are listening.

Best New World Music

Wassulu Don


Artist: Oumou Sangare
Song: Wassulu Don
Album: Timbuktu

With Timbuktu, Ouma Sangare’s ninth studio release, the Malian superstar singer hits it a little harder than usual.

The track Wassulu Don is built on a repeated 4-note figure based on the A Minor Pentatonic Scale.

It’s a real foot-stomping and rocking tune featuring a Malian influenced blues guitar solo, melding claps, stomps, kora and signature tight vocal harmonies.



Artist: Daniel Bellegarde
Song: Pastourelle
Album: Pastourelle

Daniel Bellegarde has been a Montrealer – via Haiti – for over four decades. He’s a master percussionist, storyteller, and teacher.

His latest recording Pastourelle, dives further into the musical history of Haiti and the French West Indies, exploring the classic French dance forms via the Waltz, the Contredance, the Quadrille and even a Creole Polka.

The title track – Pastourelle – is based on a contredance from Guadeloupe.

For more information check out Daniel’s website here.

Or listen on Bandcamp here.

All The Things You Are

all the things you are

ARTIST: Tigran Hamasayan
SONG: All The Things You Are
ALBUM: Standart
LABEL: Nonesuch Records

Open your ears to the Armenian jazz pianist and composer Tigran Hamasayan.

His latest album, Standart, is a departure from the usual original compositions and explorations of Armenian folk music, jazz, improvisation and large ensembles.

StandArt on Nonesuch Records features Tigran (piano), Matt Brewer (bass), Justin Brown (drums) with guests Joshua Redman (tenor sax), Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet), and Mark Turner (tenor sax).

All The Things You Are is a complete and unique take on the timeless standard.

Matt Brewer is one of the world’s premier bassists. He was born April 20, 1983, in Oklahoma City but spent most of his youth in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Born into a musical family, Matt was surrounded by music from an early age, both his father and grandfather being jazz musicians, and his mother an avid music lover and radio DJ (who, before Matt was born, would play classic jazz albums for him). He started playing drums at age 3, learning rudiments on a small practice pad, but didn’t take music seriously until the age of ten, when he found the bass during a summer program at the Interlochen Center for the Arts.

Whirlwind Recordings

Do Yourself

do yourself kidjo

ARTIST: Angelique Kidjo featuring Burna Boy
SONG: Do Yourself
ALBUM: Mother Nature

Beninese singer-songwriter’s latest, Mother Nature, is her first album of original music in 7 years and it features Sting, Burna Boy, Yemi Alade, Mr Eazi, EarthGang, Sampa The Great, Salif Keita, and others.

mother nature

The dance hall groove with auto-tuned vocals, lyrics in Fon, Yoruba and English could appeal to a new generation of Afro-beat based music.



ARTIST: Rokia Koné & Jacknife Lee
SONG: Dunden
ALBUM: Bamanan

Another artist hailing from Mali, this time enlisting Irish producer Garret Jacknife Lee.

Call and response vocals set under a deep synth bass, afro percussion, synth arpeggios, and contemporary production values.

Over The Line

molly tuttle

ARTIST: Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway
SONG: Over The Line
ALBUM: Crooked Tree

This entire record drips authenticity. This is some impressive modern neo-country bluegrass.

The songs, the writing, the playing, and the singing all feel real and tightly tethered to the long tradition of bluegrass music.

It’s almost as if these songs were remakes of standards from days gone by instead of originals.

There are some big time bluegrass “pickers” on this album including Jerry Douglas, Sierra Hull, Old Crow Medicine Show, Margo Price, Billy Strings, Dan Tyminski, and Gillian Welch.

Jerry Douglas is the premiere slide dobro player performing today. His playing can be found on myriad pop, country, folk and Bluegrass records. A professional musician since the age of sixteen, he has been sideman to (or belonged to) everyone from Ricky Skaggs to Emmylou Harris. His playing is limitless in terms of tone, technique and melodic invention. He is a dazzlingly fast picker, simulating the rolling sound of a Bluegrass banjo as well as the sliding, whining sound of a pedal steel guitar. He is also capable of great subtlety, able to lend pithy support to the prettiest songs. Douglas has also issued numerous records as a bandleader.

From the Interwebs

Signo de Fuego

signo de fuego

ARTIST: Eliane Correa & La Evolución Orchestra
SONG: Signo de Fuego
ALBUM: Signo de Fuego

Fire Signs is an apt title for this smoking release from a Barcelona-based ensemble recorded with more than 23 musicians and fronted by the vocal talents of Yadira Ferrer.

This track features top-notch production, great writing, and an extraordinary rhythm section. Put your salsa shoes on!



ARTIST: Orquestra Afro-Brasileira
SONG: Lembarenganga
ALBUM: 80 Años

The Orquesta Afro Brasileira was formed in the 1940’s under the direction of Abigail Moura.

They produced just 2 albums , Obaluayê in1957 and an eponymous follow up in 1968.

The first new release in 50 years 80 Anos brings 21st century production values with old school brazilian percussion and vocals.

Go Bhora

gonara sounds

SONG: Go Bhora
ALBUM: Hard Times Never Kill
ARTIST: Gonora Sounds

Gonora is a family band led by blind singer/songwriter Daniel Gonora. They’ve been busking on the streets of Zimbabwe for nearly 2 decades.

This catchy song is a repeated guitar riff , with a live drummer, lead vocals and a chorus that answers every phrase with Go Bhora!

Infectious, dance-worthy, happy music; a recipe for success anytime

Green Garden | Throwback Track

Green Garden

SONG: Green Garden
ALBUM: Sing To The Moon
ARTIST: Laura Mvula
YEAR: 2013

I’m calling this a throwback because it was released almost 10 years ago, but it’s still as fresh to my ears as the day it dropped.

Mvula, a native of Birmingham, U.K released Sing To The Moon in 2013 and it produced the track Green Garden.

A clap-laden, foot stomping rhythm with those thick close-voiced vocal harmonies that sing oo-waa-oo-wa, while some African type bells provide a repeated rhythmic figure that shimmer on top of Mvula’s powerful alto vocals.

Take me outside, sit in the green garden”

Before the end of that first phrase, she had me.

The song pointed to a new musical style, blending many different elements; acapella vocals, rhythmic interplay, afrobeat roots, and old school rnb drum beat, coalesce into one completely cohesive song.

Her later releases explore a wide variety of musical territory and she is an artist deserving of your attention.

Now go put on your headphones and sit in the green garden with Laura Mvula for a few minutes. Listen here.