The Story of Ethio Jazz (1965-1975) [New York - Addis - London]

The Story of Ethio Jazz (1965-1975) [New York - Addis - London]

Many listeners were first exposed to the entrancing sounds of Ethiopian vibraphonist, keyboardist, and bandleader Mulatu Astatke with Ethiopiques, Vol. 4: Ethio Jazz & Musique Instrumentale, 1969-1974. Astatke’s music is distinguished by its use of Ethiopian modes; stripped down, funky arrangements that recall soul jazz; and Latin music elements. The excellent compilation New York – Addis – London — three cities that shaped Astatke’s sound — opens with one of his better known songs, “Yekermo Sew,” which sports a great groove, nice horns, splashy keyboards and a fuzzed-out electric guitar solo. Among the tracks that display a Latin influence are the salsafied “I Faram Gami I Faram” and the Latin jazz-flavored “Girl from Addis Ababa.” “Ebo Lala,” a wedding of Afro-Cuban and Ethiopian stylings, finds the singer Seifu Yohannes backed by rough-hewn horns and a chanting chorus. One of the best cuts here, “Lanchi Biye,” features the intense, wailing vocals of Tilahoun Gessesse, which contrast with the cool, percolating accompaniment. An excellent collection.

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