Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mulatu Astatke - Tezeta / Ethio-Jazz

Mulatu Astatke has dominated the "world music" (gah) scene these past few years. A true legend, he is noted as having introduced Latin & jazz elements to Ethiopian music back in the '60s, along with more of a focus on instrumentation than vocals, the result of which we now call 'Ethio-Jazz'.

Recently, his music has been reissued & repressed on too many compilations to keep up with, as well as featured in Jim Jarmusch's 2005 independant film Broken Flowers starring Bill Murray & Julie Delpy.

Once you start delving deeper into this universe of music you start finding endless musicians, songs, albums et al. If you want to hear more of the same, the Ethiopiques compilation series on Buda Musique is a great place to start, as is this compilation on the consistently excellent Strut Records.

Mulatu Astatke - Tezeta [320 vinyl rip]

You will notice the word 'Tezeta' (which translates as nostalgia) pop up time & time again in song titles of Ethiopian music. I came across this comment on the myspace of American group the Tezeta Band, which has put it more into perspective for me...

"Today we explore the bittersweet, Ethiopian world of "TEZETA" (PRON: te-ze-TAH). "Tezeta" means "memory" or "nostalgia". Originally Ethiopia's favourite traditional song, it's now a whole genre, a musical mode and a key to Ethiopian identity. As the blues is to America, or fado (PRON: FAH-dooh) is to Portugal, "Tezeta" is to Ethiopia.. Like them, it may "wallow in misery", but Tezeta is definitely not all sad. Liquid voices, silken saxophones.."

While Mulatu is undoubtedly the godfather of Ethio-Jazz, Mahmoud Ahmed & Abatte Barihun are also well worth looking into.

You can listen to some of Abatte's music HERE.

Mulatu still performs & records today, so if you get the chance to see him don't sleep on it. I always regret missing his performance here in Dublin a few years ago at the Festival of World Cultures. Fingers crossed I get another chance...


Kevlar said...

Got a present of Vol 4 a while back. That Tezeta tune you put up is my favourite. Great music.

Louis said...

cheers kelvin yup it's incredible stuff altogether