Tom Cheyney’s Top Ten

(in no particular order)

1.      Aurelio, Laru Beya (Next Ambiance)

Lovely soft intensity and groove from Garifuna music’s torchbearer honors the passing of Andy Palacio, with guest turns from new mentor and presidential candidate (in Senegal), Youssou N’Dour.

2.      Paul Simon, So Beautiful or So What (Hear Music)

Bygone icon seeks reinvention. Paulie’s best since Graceland ponders life, death, love with tastily organic sonic palette. 

3.      June Tabor and the Oysterband, Ragged Kingdom (Topic)

The gloriously gloomy Ms. Tabor joins up with the Oysters for more neo-Anglo folk-frak: Highlights include Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” transformed into English country standard.

4.      Various, Red Hot and Rio 2 (Entertainment One)

Double-album raises money for a noble cause and gives refreshing pause with slew of interpretive Brazilianisms from homies and foreigners alike.

5.      Yemen Blues at the Troubadour, March 6

Israeli polyglots helped the missus and me celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in unexpectedly charismatic fashion.

6.      Khaira Arby, Timbuktu Tarab (Clermont Music), live at the Echoplex , March 8

Another Malian revelation, sweet buzzsaw Khaira and her Sahel-on-wheels band tore it up to a woefully small crowd at the ‘Plex, but returned later in the year to more acclaim, staying on my playlist through the seasons.

7.      Maraca at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, Seattle, WA, June 21

While on a business trip to the great Northwest, one of Cuba’s finest groups—and one of the planet’s great flautists--took my mind and bootie far away from thoughts of photovoltaic conversion efficiencies.

8.      Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 at Grand Performances, July 15

Young Seun fronted his old man’s band with electric results, as the funky Afrobeat throwdown brought the massive to its feet.

9.      Red Baraat at Skirball Cultural Center, July 28

From the drop of the first bhangra beat, the NYC-based Punjabiphiles got the party started and never let up.  Pure brass n’ drums joy.

10.  Benda Bilili, a film by Renaud Barret and Florent de La Tullaye

A touching, tender and rocking documentary shares the story of the inspiring wheelchair-bound musicians, Staff Benda Bilili of Kinshasa, DR Congo.

Tom Cheyney has been writing about the global and roots music scenes in Los Angeles and around the world since fax machines were high tech.