Awesome Tapes From Africa are to reissue a third album by cult Ethiopian jazz pianist and synth pioneer Hailu Mergia. Writing on Facebook, the label say that Wede Harer Guzo was recorded with the Dahlak Band in 1978 in Addis Ababa, in the wake of Mergia’s 1978 success Tche Belew. Album is goiing to be released on June 17th 2016.
As a prelude to this long-awaited lost treasure, I am posting one of Hailu Mergia's "lost tapes", unknown instrumental album with Walias Band.
Walias Band - rare ethiopian groove
Walias Band (sometimes spelled Wallias Band; Amharic: ዋሊያስ ባንድ?) were an Ethiopian Jazz and funk band active from the early 1970s until the early 1990s. Formed by members of the Venus Band, Walias backed up many prominent singers with a hard polyrhythmic funk sound influenced by western artists like King Curtis, Junior Walker and Maceo Parker. In 1977 they recorded one of the few albums of Ethiopian instrumental music in collaboration with vibraphonist Mulatu Astatke, whose role as a bandleader and composer was also a major influence on Ethiopian popular music.
In 1981 Walias became the first modern Ethiopian band to travel to the United States, playing on a tour with singer Mahmoud Ahmed primarily to audiences of Ethiopian refugees. Four members—Girma Bèyènè, Mogès Habté, Mèlakè Gèbrè and Hailu Mergia—stayed in the U.S. and formed a new group called Zula Band in favor of returning to live in Ethiopia under its dictatorship. Mergia took work in Washington DC driving a taxi cab and released solo cassette tapes of traditional Ethiopian music played on analog synthesizer, electric piano and accordion. The remaining members—Yohannes Tèkola and Tèmarè Harègou—continued to play together under the Derg dictatorship for another decade.
In the late 1990s Walias Band found a wider audience in the west when the French label Buda Records reissued much of the group's music on the Ethiopiques series of compact discs. Their instrumental, "Musicawi Silt", became a popular dance number and has been covered by a number of artists.
The Walias Band's name derives from the walia ibex, an endangered species of the Capra genus native to the mountains of Ethiopia. They share no members with the similarly named Ibex Band who also backed up Mahmoud Ahmed during the same epoch.
Vocalists that Walias worked with included Getachew Kassa, Mahmoud Ahmed, Woubishet Fisseha, Alemayehu Borobor, Seyoum Gebreyes, Netsanet Mellessè and Tilahun Gessesse.
Girma Beyene - Piano, electric piano, arranger
Hailu Mergia - Organ, Moog synthesizer
Mahmoud Aman - Guitar
Alemseged Kebede - Bass
Temare Haragy - Drums, percussion
Yohanese Tekola - Trumpet
Moges Habte - Tenor saxophone
Hailu Mergia & Walias Band - 01 - Nanu Nanu Neyi (5:58)
Hailu Mergia & Walias Band - 02 - Turun Feri (5:55)
Hailu Mergia & Walias Band - 03 - Kemekem (6:38)
Hailu Mergia & Walias Band - 04 - Tiz Alechign Zare (5:55)
Hailu Mergia & Walias Band - 05 - Yekereme Fikir (6:28)
Hailu Mergia & Walias Band - 06 - Monaliza (6:22)
Hailu Mergia & Walias Band - 07 - Nafkote (Aynoche Terabu) (5:49)
Hailu Mergia & Walias Band - 08 - Emo Yedigere (4:28)
Hailu Mergia & Walias Band - 09 - Munaye (7:59)
Hailu Mergia & Walias Band - 10 - Alem Zemene (6:20)