Saturday, May 24, 2008

May 24, 2008: Album of the Day Vol. 002: Mulatu Astatke / Ethiopiques Volume 4 - Ethio Jazz & Musique Instrumentale 1969-1974

Must Hear review from John Ballon:

Musically trained in London and schooled in the club scene of mid-'60s New York, Mulatu Astatke stands as the exceptional musical innovator of the Ethiopian groove. Starting in 1969, he created the first bands independent of the military, which had previously dominated the country's music scene. Having immersed himself in Caribbean music, funk, jazz and Latin grooves during his lengthy stint abroad, Mulatu returned to his native land to give rise to a brand new sound. An album of instrumentals, Ethiopiques Volume 4 is a case study in the inventive blending of influences that comprised the Ethiopian groove. Strains of funk and reggae timings permeate the thick and chunky bass lines, which are pushed prominently forward in the mix. Multiple saxophones swirl with the hypnotic, snake-charming sounds of the East, while at the same time resonating with jazzy tones reminiscent of John Coltrane and Lester Young. Guitar is a main ingredient here, growling with funky distorted wah-pedaled fuzz riffs that sound like they were lifted straight out of an early '70s black-exploitation flick. Drums and percussion combine the punchy funk of James Brown and the Meters with the heavy Latin rhythms of Mongo Santamaria and Willie Bobo. Fusing all of these elements together, Mulatu unleashes a potent brew of afro-jazz grooves that pull you in and leave you in a mystical trance-like state. Whew! Even when the record stops, these mood-inspiring sounds linger on like a drug. Get your head on right, light a candle, sit back, and you too will understand...Tropical in its roots, funky and intoxicating in its impact, Mulatu Astatke's distinct brand of Ethiopian music features some of the most soulful hip-grinding instrumentals ever recorded in Mother Africa.

Amazon review from Derek Rath

Largely the work of formidable musician-arranger Mulatu Astatqe, the 14 instrumentals here were originally issued on two LPs in 1972 and 1974 in Ethiopia, and represent a curious blend of soul-jazz and R&B with just a smattering of Ethiopian roots breaking up the stabbing horn lines, wah-wah guitars, and simmering electric piano. Curious, because at the time jazz was not very popular in Ethiopia, but that is no reflection on the quality of these primitively recorded sides of idiosyncratic Afro-funk. The grooves are long and laconic, the sound reminiscent of Miles Davis's "In a Silent Way" paired with Cannonball Adderly and Roy Ayers. But, as with all things Ethiopian, the music retains its own unique and unmistakable identity, one somewhere between a late-night jazz hole-in-the-wall group and a supper club belly-dancing combo. There are some very inventive arrangements and vigorous soloing, rendering a highly articulate and listenable music that was, at the time, doomed to go nowhere. Such is the retrospective value of reissues.


01. Yejerni Sew (4:12)
02. Metche Dershe (3:56)
03. Kasalefkut Hulu (2:43)
04. Tezeta (6:14)
05. Yegelle Tezeta (3:17)
06. Munaye (4:58)
07. Gubelye (4:36)
08. Asmarina (4:55)
09. Yekatit (3:55)
10. Netsanet (5:33)
11. Tezataye Antchil Lidj (6:01)
12. Sabye (5:24)
13. Ene Alantchi Alnorem (4:59)
14. Dewel (4:14)


Mulatu Astatke: Arranger, Keyboards
Fedadu Made-Mesqel: Flute, Tenor Sax
Mogus Habte: Tenor Sax
Yohannes Tekolla: Trumpet
Felleque Kindane: Guitar
Andrew Wilson: Guitar
Tekle "Huket" Adhanom: Guitar
Giovanni Rico: Bass
Tesfaye "Hodo" Mekonnen: Drums
Girma Zemaryam: Drums
Temare Haregu: Drums

Listen to an audio only version from youtube of Yegelle Tezeta from Ethiopiques Volume 4:

For more info on the Ethiopian derived music series called Ethiopiques, go here: Ethiopiques Wikipedia Page

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