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Adolf Alzuphar

Adolf Alzuphar is a music critic based in Asheville, NC, and in Haiti.

Cécile McLorin Salvant: For One to Love

Acclaimed vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant was raised in Miami as the American-born daughter of a French school principal mother and a Haitian doctor father. Her newest release, For One To Love, is her finest yet. It is an album of twelve songs, five written by Cécile, and seven standards that she is interpreting. The entire band’s performance makes this album phenomenal. The group is made of Aaron Diehl on piano, Paul Sikivie on bass, and Lawrence Leathers on drums.

Lionel Loueke: Gaïa

Gaïa is guitarist Lionel Loueke’s fourth album. Loueke’s albums continue to be remarkable—he is well known for combining African music with deep knowledge of harmony in jazz composition.

Dois Amigos, Um Século De Musica: Multishow Live

In 1969, two young men, in the midst of participating in both political and cultural revolution in Brazil, were sent into exile by their dictatorial government.

Tinariwen: Elwan

With Tinariwen and several other groups, rock has made its way to northeastern Mali/southern Algeria as the beat of Tuareg liberation and yearning, of nomads unhappy about the loss of their beloved homeland Ténéré, which spans parts of the two countries. Their latest album Elwan, which translates to “The Elephants” (on L.A. label Anti-), is proof that Tinariwen and other Tuareg bands are making some of the best rock being produced today.


Electro-vodou is a new genre of Haitian music that has emerged with a mission to bring traditional Haitian Vodou music to the world's trance dance floors. By melding Vodou rhythm—meant to ask deities resting in trees and in water for guidance, through song and dance—to trance, which aims to possess a dancer’s body through secular music, electro-vodou explodes the possibilities of traditional rhythms and lyrics, which are very intricate and demand dedication to learn.

Ann O’Aro

Ann O’Aro’s eponymous 2019 recording is a rare contemporary Maloya album from Réunion that has been introduced to American audiences. It is an album of creole chansons wherein words and vocal melodies and harmonies expand Maloya, the music heard as the album’s rhythms.

Possessed by the Moon

A new golden age of Haitian classical music is coming soon, as beautiful as the ones before it.

The Strength, Suppleness, and Beauty of a Body

The agadir—the collective granary—of music is made of songs and compositions for embodiment. Arooj Aftab, Julia Adolphe, and Layla McCalla are three musicians who contribute such music to the agadir, aiming to revive human life.

Anima / Arrhythmia

Yoko Ono’s album Ocean Child: Songs of Yoko Ono reveals a philosophical songwriter adept at sensuality, testimony, and protest. Ono plays with what she knows, herself, sculpting knowledge, and logic, into consequential poetics and music.

This Forsythia Bush

Cedric Burnside, Quetzal, and Courtney Marie Andrews struggle with life, having reached their crossroads. Life, for all three, begins as a feeling that is centered and sculpted not just into consolation, but redemption grounded in direction.

Charles Lloyd: Freedom, and Wonder

In 2022, a trio of trios: three albums by three different trios, together as one Blue Note release; Sacred Thread—Lloyd, Julian Lage, Zakir Hussain; Chapel—Lloyd, Bill Frisell, Thomas Morgan; Ocean—Lloyd, Anthony Wilson, Gerald Clayton. The covers of each album are each a print by Lloyd’s wife Dorothy. This is the realm of self-definition.

Xochiquetzal’s Feast

I first met Alain Derbez at Jazzatlán in Mexico City, in Roma Norte specifically. Roma Norte has a belle époque euphoric feeling to it, obscuring that it borders Colonia Doctores, a much less wealthy area in Mexico’s capital city.

Danay Suárez, Polvo de la Humedad

Song after song, Cuban artist Danay Suárez’s album Polvo de la Humedad is a well executed hip hop and reggae album. With her grave rapping voice, soulful singing voice, and nuanced rhythms, she mesmerizes with the sincerity of perfected expression.

Sex, Night

Los Pirañas, El Shirota, and Mujeres Podridas are three bold bands making music that is evolving the Spanish language into “a luminous heat that could burn, smelt or even vaporize,” as Octavio Paz noted about poetesse maudite Alejandra Pizarnik’s poetry.

Various Artists: Desconstrução

The city of São Paulo is a densely populated metropolis and major cultural and financial capital, home to a number of billionaires, major art museums, the largest gay pride parade in the world, an impressive number of universities, a vibrant Afro-Brazilian culture, and Brazil’s most infamous political protests of the 21st century.


Zulu music exists in multitudes: mbaqanga, maskandi, marabi, kwaito, jazz, isicathamiya (choral), etc. Much of Zulu contributions to music shares a shwabada, a Zulu term that means spiritual lineage.

Raúl Monsalve y Los Forajidos

Raúl Monsalve y Los Forajidos is a septet that was founded in Caracas in 2007 and is now based in Paris. Though it is officially dedicated to a “deep exploration of traditional Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Venezuelan sounds,” its use of afrobeat and jazz are more impressive. In Bichos (2020), the group’s third album, the septet collaborates with featured musicians to protest the bichos, which translates as “the bugs,” that rule the world.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

All Issues