Unleashing the Spotlight on Extraordinary Talents.
Kamasi Washington’s Ecstatic Return, and 9 More New Songs

Kamasi Washington’s Ecstatic Return, and 9 More New Songs

“Prologue” is actually the final track on Kamasi Washington’s coming album, “Fearless Movement,” and it’s dense and bustling. Double time drumming, frenetic percussion and hyperactive keyboard counterpoint roil around a melody that rises resolutely over descending chords, while breakneck solos from Dontae Winslow on trumpet and Washington on saxophone exult in sheer agility and emotional peaks. JON PARELES

Shabazz Palaces — Ishmael Butler from Digable Planets — sets up a sci-fi scenario in “Take Me to Your Leader” from his album due March 29, “Exotic Birds of Prey.” He and a guest rapper, Lavarr the Starr, have to convince a powerful, mysterious queen that “our race deserves to survive.” Amid blipping electronics and slow-pulsing bass, with voices warped by echoes and effects, they set out a strategy of gifts, philosophizing, seduction and “a steady-bumping beat she can freak with.” PARELES

A decade-long friendship somehow turns into an ecstatic romance in “Off the Walls” by Salt Cathedral, the duo of Juliana Ronderos and Nicolas Losada. “Getting along wasn’t our strong suit/but I’m happy that we saw it through,” Ronderos sings in a track that melds hovering electronics, crisp programmed beats, Afropop-tinged guitar curlicues and Ronderos’s multitracked vocals into sheer bliss: “Feeling like I never did before.” PARELES

“Act II: Date @ 8” by 4batz is clearly indebted to music coming from Toronto in the early 2010s, when Drake and the Weeknd were collectively laying the bricks to remake the sound of pop. And so that slow, sensual, saccharinely off-kilter down-tempo R&B hit — which has run rampant through TikTok and elsewhere over the for the past couple of months — getting an old-fashioned Drake-remix bump is a full-circle moment. It’s also a student-teacher convention: 4batz’s rendering of an infatuation has an edge of titillation, while Drake’s is calm and collected. JON CARAMANICA

Somewhere between a hymn and a sea chantey, “All in Good Time” — from Iron & Wine’s album due April 26, “Light Verse” — has Sam Beam’s earnest tenor and Fiona Apple’s huskiest alto trading lines about togetherness, estrangement, shared memories and lessons learned: “You wore my ring until it didn’t fit,” Apple observes. Piano chords ring and strings swell as the song’s two ex-partners harmonize to find, if not reconciliation, a mature sense of resignation. PARELES

The Canadian folk singer Mustafa’s specialty is isolation and longing, rendering them with beauty and, somehow, without anxiety. On “Imaan,” the first single from a forthcoming album, the subject is about how two star-crossed people attempt to find ways to connect when faith (and maybe other things) demand that they don’t: “You say praying isn’t easy/And all the ways you need me are from God/And all the ways you reach him are flawed.” It’s about the tension between the carnal and the spiritual, but more simply, about two people who are talking right past each other, because the price of talking directly to each other may be far too high. CARAMANICA

Still a provocateur at 81, the wry Southern soul veteran Swamp Dogg plans to release “Blackgrass: From West Virginia to 125th St.,” an album that has him backed by bluegrass virtuosos like Sierra Hull on mandolin, Noam Pikelny on banjo and Billy Contreras on fiddle. “Mess Under That Dress” bounces along as Swamp Dogg sings about a woman who’s so sultry, she even has the undertaker worried. “You’re bad for business,” he frets. “You’re gonna raise the dead.” PARELES

In the early days of corridos tumbados, a generation gap grew between the young performers injecting regional Mexican music with new rhythms and attitude — and gaining widespread attention — and the older musicians who had been plugging away for years finding success within the scene but going largely unheard elsewhere. Those walls have, thankfully, been dissolving, as evinced by this vibrant collaboration between Fuerza Regida, one of the pioneer bands of the last decade, and Eden Muñoz, the former frontman of the long-running and extremely popular band Calibre 50. It’s a tag-team of chest-thumping bravado — not against each other, but together. CARAMANICA

“I’m a goddess onstage, human when we’re alone,” the ever-poised Icelandic pop-jazz crooner Laufey sings in “Goddess,” envisioning a post-show hookup. The tune is an old-fashioned, acoustic piano waltz with a sudden, grandiose buildup. Like many of Laufey’s songs, it pinpoints a decidedly contemporary tension, between perfect image and earthly reality. PARELES

Deep-voiced and absolutely unflinching, Moor Mother — the poet and vocalist Camae Ayewa — turns her attention to the British Empire, and all its colonial plunder, in “All the Money” from her album “The Great Bailout.” With production by the keyboardist Vijay Iyer that floats echoey piano notes over a cavernous bass pulse, swirling echoes and a wailing operatic voice, Moor Mother considers churches and museums and art objects. She lists dates and catalog holdings in the millions; she cites “thieves disguised as explorers” and whispers, “Where did they get all the money?” PARELES

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