Blogtrotters

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Samuel Yirga - [2012] - Guzo [ethiopia]





       Guzo is the debut release of young Ethiopian pianist Samuel Yirga. Against the odds, Samuel found his way to music school in Addis Ababa and despite still being in his 20s and only having left music school relatively recently, he has developed at a pace remarkable for someone of his age. 

       He has gone on to become one of Ethiopia's most promising young musicians and composers and in recent years, Samuel has gained wider international recognition through his touring and recording with Ethio-fusion group Dub Colossus.





       The title, Guzo, means "journey" in Amharic, the official working language of Ethiopia. Recorded partly in Addis Ababa and partly in the UK at Real World Studios, it is the product of his years experimenting with the music of his roots and the outside influences of American jazz (particularly Keith Jarrett and Herbie Hancock), Latin, and classical music. It explores the traditional musical history of Ethiopia, the more modern Ethiojazz that has brought his country's music to international attention, ventures into big-band brass ensembles, moves through soul and funk, and then simmers with the deeply impassioned solo piano tracks. Whilst the solo piano pieces are introspective and deeply felt, Samuel has enlisted some great singers and instrumentalists from Ethiopia, Europe and the Caribbean. Featured vocalists are the Creole Choir of Cuba, a Cuban choir whose songs go back to their Haitian roots; Mel Gara, a British singer whose origins are in Iraq; and Nicolette, a Nigerian-British singer, famous for her collaborations with Massive Attack.

       While Sammy has been influenced by American jazz and funk, he also wanted to record some tunes which showed the great range of traditional music in Ethiopia. On these tracks, which he recorded in Addis Ababa, he was joined by some of the country's best young traditional instrumentalists.

       "His world is opening up," says Dubulah (aka Nick Page), the British musician and producer behind Transglobal Underground, Syriana and Dub Colossus and also producer of Guzo, "He's feeling his way around and this recording is a statement of where he's intending to go and what he has to offer. I think the result will surprise people."

        'Guzo' is both bold and sensitive. It is the start of Samuel Yirga's musical journey and a platform to showcase the extraordinary skill as both musician and composer of this emerging young talent. The album's roots might be firmly in the Ethiojazz of Samuel's homeland, but this young man from Addis has opened up a whole new door on a musical genre and region.





Tracklisting

1. Abet Abet: is a traditional love song which features the raw and melodic notes of the Ethiopian one-stringed fiddle, the messenqo. Recorded in Addis, Sammy is accompanied by some of Ethiopia's best young traditional instrumentalists.

2. Tiwista: this is another well-known Ethiopian song and means 'nostalgia'. The tune is arranged with Sammy's own jazz-influenced base line. The melody is led by a subtle but powerful saxophone which weaves in and out of the piano through the track.

3. Ferma Ena Wereket: This tune's title means 'We don't need paper to love each other'. "Everyone can sing about love," says Sammy, "but the way you describe it is what's important." This track is a controversial statement about marriage.

4. Ye Bati Koyita: - a solo piano piece. The title means "A Time in Bati" - Bati is a town in northern Ethiopia, and also the name of the musical scale Samuel plays. Always the innovator, Samuel plays it not with the original time signatures in which it was written, but swapping between different timings to keep the tune fresh. The result is a mature, intricate take on an old Ethiopian melody which ripples with classical and jazz influences.

5. Nou Se Soleil: - Vocal introduction to I am the Black Gold of the Sun, sung by The Creole Choir of Cuba.

6. I am the Black Gold of the Sun: This song features guest vocalists The Creole Choir of Cuba, Nicolette and Mel Gara and is a re-working of the 1970s psychedelic soul classic. The three sets of vocals are underpinned by the funk-laden chords and flourishes of Sammy's jazz-infused piano playing. Page chose the song to cover because of Sammy's love of 1970s and '80s American music, and brought in those artists because together they told the story of a journey from Africa to the Caribbean, via the Middle East and Europe. The song brings with it the sunshine of the Caribbean, carried by the uplifting rich vocals of the Choir, as well as the urban tones of the British-based singers.

7. Dance With the Legend: a solo piano piece, which takes its inspiration from a song by Ethiopia's great singer Tilahun Gessese. The tune swings with a lilting rhythm and ripples with classical and jazz influences.

8. My Head: Recorded in the UK, with the regular Dub Colossus horn section, this track is an upbeat latin number.

9. Drop Me There: This piano solo written by Sammy features three of Ethiopian music's distinctive melodic scales and was written at Real World Studios last winter. "It was very quiet there," says Sammy of his time at Real World, "so I could really feel every note when I played."

10. The Blues of Wollo: Based on a famous Ethiopian song called Ambassel, featuring both traditional and modern instruments. Recorded in Addis, with wonderful keening vocals from Genet Masresha.

Bonus Track
11. African Diaspora: featuring and co-written by Nicolette, African Diaspora is a melancholic song which demands "Africa, why are you letting your people leave?" The song reverberates with muted horns and the gentle tones of Sammy's piano playing.




Reviews

...young Ethiopian pianist who blends his soul and jazz influences with music of his homeland.
(Guzo) stacks up well next to the best music of swinging Addis. His three solo piano pieces show huge range: "Drop Me There" is crystalline and delicate..."Dance with the Legend" is as fluid as Keith Jarrett in Koln.
                                                                                Downbeat 4 ****        (USA)


No. 2 in Rhapsody's Top 10 World Albums...
Sometimes an album just takes your breath away. Swirling together contemporary jazz and Ethiopian grooves with a graceful boldness and elegant subtlety that makes this Addis Ababa-born pianist's youth hard to believe, Guzo lures you in from the first creeping...
                                                                                       Rhapsody   (Online USA)


Yirga's debut offers surprise after surprise.
Samuel Yirga is a pianist from Ethiopia whose debut record "Guzo"sits somewhere in the fertile ground where jazz mingles with R&B and funk to create soulful beauty. ...Yirga's appetite is big, and each surprise within Guzo renders easy comparisons useless. Yirga's debut offers surprise after surprise.
                                                                                      Los Angeles Times (USA)


CD of the year...Otherworldly jazz from young Ethiopian pianist with dizzying potential
This is both a bang up-to-the-minute album, but also a throwback to the glory days of Ethiopian jazz in the late 1960s and 1970s... the balance of instrumentation between brass, percussion and piano is a thing of wonder. ... the potential is dizzying and his joy in playing transmits wonderfully to the listener.
                                                                                          The Arts Desk (Online)


one of the most exciting and innovative jazz players in the world.
(Samuel Yirga's) classical sensibilities fused with the native folk sound has made this young artist one of the most exciting and innovative jazz players in the world.
                                                                                         Huffington Post   (USA)


Samuel Yirga: A Prodigy Reviving Ethiopian Jazz
Yirga has had to fight for his right to be himself, and in the end, the voice and vision of a distinctive composer shines through in this impressive debut.
                                                                                 NPR Music Online        (USA)


...masterfully produced...
...his new album Guzo is a talented blend of sounds...and sparkling cameo performances.
                                                                                         The Africa Report (UK)


...fierce debut...an essential purchase for anyone...
who has fallen for the jazzier end of the ethiopiques spectrum. Among the highlights here - the swinging groove of My head...and I Am The Black Gold of the Sun.
                                                                                                               Mojo  (UK)


Powerful and beautiful...9 out of 10
                                                                                          Stereoplay  (Germany)


...Yirga should be an exciting prospect to discover for any jazz fan.
One moment he's pouring out emotive, classical jazz, the next fusing traditional Ethiopian sounds and Ethiojazz with sparse piano and elements of funk, or working alongside soulful guest vocalists.
                                                                       Loughborough echo online    (UK)

...rich beyond its measure.
...some outstanding jazz soloing...
                                                             The Weekend Australian       (Australia)


...an enjoyably diverse set as leader.
Guzo ranges from ruminative solo piano to the ebullient party blast of My Head... The Creole Choir of Cuba join him for an epic take on the psychedelic soul groove I Am The Black Gold of The Sun.
                                                                                                     The Times  (UK)


Guzo - Track 5 on Songlines Top of the World
...It's not often that one is greeted by such a strong debut, so effortlessly shot through with intelligence and creativity. ...a project that successfully takes the tunes and arrangements of Ethiopia's much-documented golden age and updates the into a modern setting, consolidating their originality and power in the process.
                                                                                                      Songlines   (UK)


... it's a great introduction
If you're already a fan of Ethiojazz, this is as good an indication as any of its new direction and if you're unfamiliar with the genre, it's a great introduction.
                                                                                          The Morning Star (UK)


Dub Colossus's young Ethiopian pianist is an incandescent talent.
                                                                                          The Independent (UK)


Summer anthem? Recon so.
(I am the Black Gold of the Sun)...some sublime vocals from The Creole Choir Of Cuba..
                                                                                                      Echoes       (UK)


...His talent is remarkable
...influences of blues and funk clearly audible in the slower parts, while the frantic rhythms gripped listeners with anxiety.
                                                                         Spaceship News, Perth
                                                        (Live review from The Ellington Jazz Club)                         


....an impressive album.
                                                                                            The Guardian      (UK)


...accomplished debut.
Yirga draws on his country's best-known musical currency - the dark flavours of Seventies Ethio-Jazz - on this accomplished debut.
                                                                                 The Daily Telegraph     (UK)


...solo mixture of abstraction and funky jamming
...solo mixture of drifting Monkish abstraction and HeadHunter-styled Hammond and Rhodes funky jamming. 'I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun' benefits from the Creole Choir Of Cuba's blissful gospel singing.
                                                                                  The Financial Times     (UK)


Impressive debut from Ethio-jazz pianist - 7/10
Twentysomething Yirga is a man on a mission - to become Ethiopia's greatest pianist. He's surely halfway there. The best tracks here align him convincingly with the rediscovered 'Ethio Jazz' of the 1960's - "Twista", with its funky one-string fiddle, both entice.
                                                                                            Uncut Magazine  (UK)


Incredible ... this album has absolutely blown my socks off!
                                                               Gilles Peterson - BBC 6 Music        (UK)


An impressive debut album that attests to the originality of its author.
Guzo, the debut set by Ethiopian pianist Samuel Yirga, is such a set. In short, this is an impressive debut album that attests to the originality and expressiveness of its author.
                                                                                    BBC Music Online        (UK)


It goes without question that Yirga has talent...Yirga is a performer.
...his debut solo album Guzo is sure to launch him straight into the forefront. It goes without question that Yirga has talent; every track demonstrates virtuosity and jazz know-how....Yirga is a performer. The album oozes with feeling and heart. Every track is so full of artistic sensibility that it's hard not to be sucked up in the performance. ...piano solos like 'Yeh Bati Koyita' and 'Drop Me There', which are painfully beautiful. ...rarely is an album able to bring it's audience along for a passionate ride, full of ups and downs. Guzo does exactly that. And if Yirga can perform with such spirit on an album, I can only imagine what it would be like to hear him live, something I am definitely looking forward to.
                                                                                 NOMAD's Playlist (Australia)


...melodic themes that touched the heart.
Though sparingly unleashed, his deliberate, eastern-inflected solos were thoroughly transporting. The frantic final selection, 6 and 4, married a northern Ethiopian mode to a southern rhythm...propulsive interplay with bassist Yoseph Hailemariam Bekele and star drummer Nathaniel Zewde sounded like top-flight funk in anybody's language.
                        The Age & The Canberra Times (Live review from Comedy Theatre, Melbourne International Jazz Festival)   (Australia)


...one of the most thrilling bands on the world stage.
His opening solo piece was staggering in its invention, facility and narrative skill. He led us through a fantasia of idioms, drawing on Ethiopian, jazz, Cuban, funk and classical...with the ease of one with a deep understanding of the convergence of their essences, rather than the disparity of their surfaces. On Tiwista his improvising was seismic in its power and transporting in its range... Feleke Woldemariam (tenor saxophone), Nathaniel Zewde (drums) and Yoseph Hailemariam (electric bass), musicians worthy of Yirga's singular gifts. Woldemariam played with a fluttering quality to his notes...suddenly the commonplace tenor saxophone became exotic and carried immense emotional sway. The explosive Abet Abet...Rhythmically the piece metamorphosed into the sort of funk that would lead some people to lock up their children rather than let them be corrupted by such raw, visceral and wanton music. breathtaking in its intricacy and complexity, while maintaining inexorable grooves.
                                                             The Brisbane Times (Live review from  The Blue Beat Jazz Club) (Australia)


...staggeringly brilliant album.
Samuel Yirga is a bright new musical flame who shows that Ethiopia's rich jazz heritage is still alive and thriving in his young hands.
                                                                      Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)


One of the world's more remarkable young pianists is a 26-year-old Ethiopian who did not even touch a piano until he was 16.
...highly diverse - variously solo or ensemble, instrumental or vocal, 'pop' or not. Guzo includes three jaw-dropping piano-only cuts; they do not imitate Keith Jarrett but are in the same league as his solo flights.
                                         Preview - The Weekend Planet Radio     (Australia)


....Yirga is such an exciting artist
...that deserves the recognition he is getting. Guzo is just a taster of what is yet to come from this talented artist.
                                                                                               Musika.uk.com (UK)


"It has all the ingredients of a masterpiece and certainly those that make it top of my playing list. Great balance between avant garde jazz and sweet r&b vibe in some tracks and those Ethiopian scales... all tracks are outstanding!"
                    JPR at Simply Out Of This World/Covent Garden Radio      (UK)


I feel very privileged to have an early preview of this fantastic album."                                                               Juice FM


It seems he's pulled out all the stops. His classical music experience shows in his sensitive and thoughtful approach to his solo piano work like Ye Bati Koyita and Drop Me There and at the same time can make a beautiful Charles Stepney tune like I am the Black Gold of the Sun sound fresh yet again. Powerful and dynamic performances on other tracks recorded with the UK and Ethiopian musicians show off his improvisational style but I keep returning to his solo piano work. Thoroughly rewarding album."
                                                                                 AfroBase on Juice FM   (UK)






Mulatu Astatke – Plays Ethio-Jazz [1989]


                        R   E   U   P   L   O   A   D   


            Mulatu Astatke (also written Astatqé on French releases) is arguably one of the most influential and legendary musicians from Ethiopia. During the 1960’s, he studied music abroad in London, Boston, and New York. He then returned home to Ethiopia armed with a love for jazz and Latin music. There he blended Ethiopian traditional music with the Latin-jazz he was so fond of to create a unique hybrid he called “Ethio-jazz”.

      Mulatu Astatke is first and foremost a composer but also a multi-instrumentalist, playing the vibraphone, keyboards and organs. He is further credited as having established congas and bongos, instruments normally central to Latin styles, in Ethiopian music. However, as Ethiopian songs traditionally focused on vocals his greatest contribution to the music of his country was introducing a new focus on instrumentation.




       Mulatu's "Plays Ethio-Jazz" is published for Poljazz, polish discography company.  This is ultra rare album, available only on vinyl.


Tracklist

A1 Addis Ababa 3:20
A2 Gambella 4:00
A3 Motherland 5:55
A4 Kulun Manqualesh 3:00
A5 Crusin´ "J" Town 3:55
B1 Tizita 6:06
B2 Chic-chica 5:20
B3 Yelb Lie Isat 4:00
B4 Lent 6:00


Credits

Bass – Krzysztof Ścierański (tracks: B4), Paweł Jastrzębski (tracks: A1 to A5, B2 to B4), Zbigniew Wegehaupt (tracks: A3)
Guitar, Keyboards – Winicjusz Chróst* (tracks: A1 to A4, B2 to B4)
Guitar, Voice – Jerzy Bartz (tracks: B1)
Percussion – Krzysztof Zawadzki (tracks: A3, A4, B2 to B4)
Saxophone – Tomasz Szukalski (tracks: A1 to A5, B3 ,B4)
Trumpet – Henryk Majewski (tracks: A3, B3, B4)
Vibraphone, Congas – Mulatu Astatke (tracks: A1 to A5, B2 to B4)


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mohammed Wardi - [6 awesome tapes] [sudan]





Mohammed Osman Hassan Salih Wardi (Arabic: محمد عثمان حسن وردي‎) (born 19 July 1932 – 18 February 2012) was a Nubian Sudanese singer and songwriter.



           Wardi was born on 19 July 1932, in a small village called Swarda close to Wadi Halfa Northern Sudan.His mother, Batool Badri, died when he was an infant.His father, Osman Hassan Wardi, died when he was nine years old.He was brought up in a diverse and culturally rich background and developed an interest in poetry, literature, music and singing.Wardi traveled to Shendi to complete his education, and returned to Wadi Halfa as a secondary school teacher.


        In 1953, Wardi went to Khartoum for the first time to attend a convention as a teaching representative for his area. He moved to Khartoum and started his career as a musical performer. 



       In 1957, Omdurman Radio chose him to record and sing on national broadcast in an arena with legendary singers such as Abdelaziz Mohamed Dauod, Hassan Atia, Ahmed Almustafa, Osman Hussaein and Ibrahim Awad. Wardi recorded 17 songs in his first year. A committee formed by Omdurman Radio's president that included top singers and songwriters such as AlKashif, Osman Hussaein and Ahmed Almustafa promoted Wardi to highest level as a professional singer. He had a bilateral with a famous poet, Ismail Hassan, resulting in more than 23 song. Wardi performs using a variety of instruments including the Nubian Tanbur and sings in both Arabic and Nubian languages. He has been described as "Africa's top singer", with fans mainly in the Horn of Africa. His songs address topics such as romance, passion, Nubian folklore and heritage, revolution and patriotism with some of his political songs resulting in him being jailed. After the introduction of Sharia in 1989, he left Sudan to voluntary exile in Cairo. He returned in 2003.

And the granting of artist Mohamed Osman Wardi honorary doctorate from the University of Khartoum in 2005 in recognition of his career for more than 60 years and his performance more than 300 song and legend as a Sudanese art immortal and encyclopedia of music.

Faytinga - Eritrea [2003]


   R   E   U   P   L   O   A   D   




       Faytinga comes from the Kunama people, one of Eritrea''s many tribes, where women enjoy equal rights with the men. Her father was war hero Faïïd Tinga, and at the age of fourteen she had already joined her country''s armed struggle for independence from neighbouring Ethiopian rule.
  Faytinga grew up surrounded by her uncles and aunts singing and playing instruments, in accordance with the Kunama tradition. Her dream was to be a singer, and it came true when she was sent to entertain the troops at the front, using her songs as a message of hope and determination. Faytinga composes her own material as well as performing work from well-known Eritrean poets and composers, playing the krar, a small lyre, in accompaniment to her songs. 
An accomplished and elegant dancer as well as talented singer, Faytinga is a leading figure and source of inspiration for the men and women of her country. In 1990 she undertook a tour of the United States and Europe as a member of an Eritrean group, touring for the first time as a solo artist in 1995 when she released her first album on cassette. It took until 1999, and an appearance at the Africolor festival, before she recorded her first CD. 


01. Faytinga - Goda Anna (3:32)
02. Faytinga - Hakuma Tia (3:56)
03. Faytinga - Degsi (6:24)
04. Faytinga - Leledia (4:37)
05. Faytinga - Eritrea (5:50)
06. Faytinga - Amajo (4:04)
07. Faytinga - Laganga (5:29)
08. Faytinga - Alemuye (5:49)
09. Faytinga - Taham Bele (6:58)
10. Faytinga - Sema'ett (4:56)
11. Faytinga - Buba (4:50)


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Yemane Ghebremichael (Yemane Barya) - [1992] - Vol. 2 [eritrea]


Originaly posted on Awesome Tapes from Africa > here









      This 1992 recording (1986 in Ethiopian calendar) is an awesome tape. I've had a YouTube crush on the music of Eritrean legend Yemane G/Michael (aka Yemane Baria, Yemane Barya, etc) for a while and this mostly-acoustic recording is completely bringing me back to a recent trip to Tigray, Ethiopia. The region neighbors Eritrea, and shares a language and musical vibe. I dug this tape up from deep in the stash months ago but didn't really get into it until now. Pentatonic strings and keyboard join the vocal melodies, dancing up and down in a lovely lilt. Amidst the quintessential [ka-dunk] rhythm that is characteristic of a lot of Tigrinya folk music I heard around the Eritrean border, this tape stands out: minimally arranged, urgent, beautiful.

                                                                       posted by Brian Shmikovitz



[Yanna] Badume's Band & Aklilu Zewdie - [2005] - Live à Glomel [ethiopia+france]


                       R   E   U   P   L   O   A   D   


recorded live @ 17ème Rencontre Internationale de la Clarinette Populaire, Glomel, France, may 7, 2005.


       A musical meeting between Yanna Badume's Band and virtuoso clarinetist of Ethiopia Aklilu Zewdie (director of Yared School, National School of Music at the University of Addis Ababa). 

Aklilu Zewdie
     Want to find Poullaouen Glomel and the atmosphere of warm nights in Addis Ababa 70's, when fantastic crooners bewitched girls with languid melodies

Aklilu ZEWDIE : clarinette
Stéphane LE DRO : clarinette basse, saxophone
Antonin VOLSON : batterie
Rudy BLAS : guitare
Olivier GUENEGO : claviers
Stéphane RAMA : basse
Xavier PUSSET : saxophone
Julien BECHEN : saxophone
Eric MENNETEAU : chant

12 tracks, excellent sound, great performance ... Enjoy !!!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Kassa Tessema - [1998] - Fano



   R   E   U   P   L   O   A   D   






01. Kassa Tessema - Fano (5:28)
02. Kassa Tessema - Bati (5:51)
03. Kassa Tessema - Shegitu (4:24)
04. Kassa Tessema - Satenaw (2:19)
05. Kassa Tessema - Ambasel (6:14)
06. Kassa Tessema - Gelele (5:48)
07. Kassa Tessema - Tizita (10:53)
08. Kassa Tessema - Bertukane (6:26)
09. Kassa Tessema - Nagedamu (5:42)
10. Kassa Tessema - Ebakeh Tarekegn (3:06)
11. Kassa Tessema - Musica (4:50)



                                            Ethiopian legend - Kassa Tessema


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mulatu Astatke & his Ethiopian Quintet - Afro Latin Soul 1 & 2 [1966]




         R   E   U   P   L    O   A   D   




              Mulatu Astatke & his Ethiopian Quintet: Afro-Latin Soul Vol. 1;
                                 Worthy NOW-1014; 1966 (Latin jazz) 

              Mulatu Astatke & his Ethiopian Quintet: Afro-Latin Soul Vol. 2; 

                                 Worthy NOW-1015; 1966 (Latin jazz) 














              Wild! Pulsating! This afro-latin jazz album of Mulatu and His Quintet is an unique and exciting mixture of three cultures: Ethiopian, Puerto Rican and American! 
                      During the session, featuring Felix Torres and John Perez on percussions, Mulatu masterfully jumps from vibes to piano to drums. This album is one you will always treasure! 







Ethiopian sounds with a twist
By Bill Beuttler, Globe Correspondent 
November 5, 2004


It's been decades since Mulatu Astatke has performed his so-called Ethio Jazz in the United States, back when he toured and recorded in the 1960s with his Ethiopian Quintet. But the arranger-composer will be doing so again Wednesday in Arlington at the Regent Theatre, in the first of three concerts with the Either/Orchestra.

A fusion of the traditional music of Mulatu's native Ethiopia and the jazz and Latin influences he picked up as a student in London and Boston in the late 1950s and early '60s, Ethio Jazz enjoyed its short, largely unnoticed heyday between Mulatu's return to Ethiopia from New York in 1968 and the rise of the Marxist dictatorship there in 1974, after which the recording industry in that country remained shuttered for years.

By then, Mulatu had become a major figure in Ethiopian music. He had done so by bringing home and introducing such Western instruments as a Hammond organ, vibes, congas, and timbales, and, more important, by adapting to traditional Ethiopian melodies the composing and arranging skills he had studied under Herb Pomeroy and others during a short stretch at the Berklee College of Music.

Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and others were experimenting with modal jazz at the time Mulatu was studying jazz, and that and other influences shaped his Ethio Jazz.

''I still listen a lot to Gil Evans," says Mulatu by phone from his son's home in northern Virginia, recalling the musicians who affected him most in those seminal years. ''I love George Shearing very much -- I like his changes, I like his approach to his 12-tone music. I was listening a lot to Randy Weston. Coltrane I was listening to a lot. And Miles. Those are the people who really influenced me."

Mulatu's main challenge in combining traditional Ethiopian music with jazz, he says, involved integrating the pentatonic-scale-based melodies of Ethiopia with the 12 tones on which Western music is based. The result, to Western ears, has an eerie, exotic, almost trancelike feel to it, coupled with more familiar jazz, Latin, and soul rhythms and harmonies.

''Whatever you do," Mulatu says, ''if you touch the melody, then the whole thing's going to be changed. So the only thing you have to do to make this music interesting is to really work on the harmonic side of it. So I really worked on what I studied -- nice arrangements and nice voicings and nice soloing."

Mulatu's recorded output has, of course, been sparse. Still, it was recordings that serendipitously brought him together with the Either/Orchestra this past January, when the E/O capped off a two-week tour of the country by becoming the first non-Ethiopian band to perform at the annual Ethiopian Music Festival in Addis Ababa. 

Russ Gershon, Either/Orchestra's leader, became smitten with Ethiopian music after acquiring several CDs from the French producer Francis Falceto's ''Ethiopiques" series, which included Mulatu work from the early '70s.

Gershon went on to include arrangements of Ethiopian tunes on the E/O CDs ''More Beautiful Than Death" and ''Afro-Cubism." Those got noticed by Falceto and led to an E/O appearance in Addis Ababa. (The E/O's live festival performances with various Ethiopian musicians, including Mulatu, will make up volume 21 or 22 of the ''Ethiopiques" series, says Gershon, and probably be released this spring.)

''There's not that long tradition of high-level jazz playing that they're coming out of," Gershon says of the Ethiopian instrumentalists he heard on disc, ''so there's a sort of simplicity to the playing that I really like. . . . It's sort of all vibe, all feeling, coming through relatively simple technique."

For his part, Mulatu, whose main performing instruments are vibraphone, piano, and percussion, is delighted after all these years to work with American musicians who combine high-caliber chops and a genuine affinity for his music.

''They feel this music," he says, ''and they really play it so nice."










01 - i faram gami i faram (2:19)
02 - mascaram setaba (1:49)
03 - shagu (3:05)
04 - one for buzayhew (4:30)
05 - alone in the crowd (3:55)
06 - almaz (2:53)
07 - mulatu's hideaway (2:55)
09 - a kiss before dawn (3:10)
10 - playboy cha cha (3:56)
11 - the panther (boogaloo) (2:33)
12 - konjit (pretty) (3:16)
13 - soul power (5:16)
14 - lover's mambo (2:15)
15 - love mood for two (4:28)
16 - jijiger (2:29)
17 - girl from addis abada (3:57)
18 - karayu (4:02)
                                                  19 - raina (4:46)