Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
JSngry

LF "Ethiopian Jazz" Recs

30 posts in this topic

Been making the latest in an decades-long of revisiting/expanding my Sun Ra awareness (no sane person tries to do it all at once, unless they were there all along, imo, and i started with cutout impulse!s back in...whenever that was), this time seeing what I can get via Pandora (btw, it looks like thee are different algorithms for "sun Ra" and "Sun Ra & His Arkestra"...the former proved to be the better choice, at least initially), and there keeps coming up a slew of different "Ethipian Jaa" (that's aht I'm calling it, anyway) selections, some of which seem to be part of the Ra collective Subconscious more than other.s. but the one that consistently pulls me in is this one:

zzethiopiquesvol4ethi_101b.jpg

First things first - is that Duke Ellington on the cover? It is, right?

Immediately followed by - what is there in this vein, overall, and how much of it gets into that Ra Venn Diagram like this record does (the artist is Mulatu Astaq)? I know the Ra in Egypt stuff, but this is nothing like that, nor, really, is other Pandora selections of similar orientation.

What should I know here? About Mulatu Astaq specifically, or other things in sync with him?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Yes, that is Duke Ellington on the cover.

I like him a lot, but think of him more like an Ethiopian Gil Evans--a composer/arranger who is more of a colorist than a virtuoso soloist on vibes (but still effective). 

The best collections I've heard are the one pictured from the  Ethiopiques series and a collection called New York Addis London, Story of Ethic-Jazz.

Recently, I've been listening to one called Addis 1988, the first side of which is fabulous, but LP only.

Strut has also released some of his more recent music.

I would also recommend checking out keyboardist Hailu Mergia, who has a number of releases and reissues on Awesome Tapes from Africa. The ones from the classic 70s era are the best, but he is still interesting (lives in Washington D.C. area and works as a taxi driver).

Edited by kh1958

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I second that Hailu Mergia recommendation. And Mulatu is another good place to start if only because of his availability. For some reason he is very popular among the same hip hop crowd that also loves Lanquidity, so the Sun Ra connection is there - I also hear it in the short funk pieces on Atlantis. 

As with US jazz, there is a point where this sort of “ethiojazz” shades into “ethiofunk”, I.e., R&B. What’s interesting is that, although there is a clear influence from US music, a whole lot of the rhythmic detail appears to be taken from more traditional Ethiopian musics and is shared within the “genres”. Sticking to the “jazz” music gives a great but slightly incomplete picture, as with the US equivalent. On the “R&B” side Mahmoud Ahmed’s Ere Mela, available through the same Ethiopiques series, is a good place to start.

Awesome Tapes from Africa seems to have moved away from its original concept, but it was and is still a blog with mp3s to download. If you go on there and filter for East Africa there’s some incredible records, which when the blog first started were very obscure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gétatchèw Mèkurya is another of those legendary names, I think he's amazing... here you can also read a scan of the liner notes to his issue in the Ethiopiques series

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the tips...a lot of these albums are OOP now? Is this going to be a matter of paying the extra bucks, or are there current releases on the market at popular prices?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are reasonably priced CDs of Mulatu Astatke's New York London Addis, The Story of Ethio Jazz on eBay.

Getachaw Mercuria's Ethiopiques volume (14) îs availabe from amazon.

https://smile.amazon.com/Ethiopiques-14-Getatchew-Mekurya/dp/B000093FHE/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=ethiopiques&qid=1629463301&s=music&sr=1-4

For Hailu Mergia, the Awesome Tapes issues are in print. I like best, And His Classical Instrument, Tche Belew, and Were Harer Guzo. You can sample his music on bandcamp. https://hailumergia.bandcamp.com/album/tche-belew

And in general,  the volumes in the Ethiopiques series, even though most are not Ethio-Jazz, are almost all quite enjoyable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coll, thanks! I like to buy stuff on Fridays after work, so this looks like something to do today!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sure that Magnificent Goldberg would have plenty of ideas to offer.

Wish he was still active on the board.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, HutchFan said:

Wish he was still active on the board.

 

Amen to that.  I suspect Paul Secor might also have had useful input, equally missed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, HutchFan said:

I'm sure that Magnificent Goldberg would have plenty of ideas to offer.

Wish he was still active on the board.

 

I do too. Best I can tell, he's had personal situations that demand his attentions elsewhere. I do get the occasional personal email from him, last I heard all was well with his health and stuff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, JSngry said:

I do too. Best I can tell, he's had personal situations that demand his attentions elsewhere. I do get the occasional personal email from him, last I heard all was well with his health and stuff.

That's good to hear, thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, definitely an invaluable resource with a deep knowledge base.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, mjazzg said:

That's good to hear, thanks

Yes.  Absolutely.

 

2 hours ago, JSngry said:

Yeah, definitely an invaluable resource with a deep knowledge base.

No doubt!  I learned a TON from that dude!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He actually made a few trips to Africa (the continent, not the country!) and got down into it to see what the real deal was with "record" distributions of popular musics. Real life observations. Doing the work!

I think he had hopes of doing the same when he came here, but...this shit has been locked up dead for a good long while now. All the mom-and-pop stores long gone. 30 years ago, heel yeah, we'd have kept busy. But...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I have a pretty good smattering of “Ethio-adjacent” jazz* — all on CD — that I’ll have to post some links to when I have the chance. The Bastards are pretty good about literally throwing “Ethio” into their product descriptions wherever appropriate — and that’s where I’ve picked up most of it.

Also, using a few of these modern bands as ‘seeds’ for Pandora stations has really brought up quite a variety of great stuff — not all of which strictly has Ethiopian roots, but some of it definitely does.

I’ll try and post some things here when I get the chance soon.

*Actually, most of what I’m talking about is stuff The Bastards classifies as “global grooves” — but most of what I’ve bought (all of it I sampled at length before deciding to buy) is better than that label might imply.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Rather than worrying about selecting  just the optimal studio track, here’s a representative (and hot!) live performance by one of my favorite modern exemplars…

Debo Band — based out of Boston

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debo_Band

I have both their full-length CD’s and one EP — and they’re the real deal. The tenor-player (with the bald pate) is the ringleader.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And here’s another one…

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a couple of those Mulatu reissues that Dusty was selling several years back.   One is from 1966 and the other from 1972.  They are overdue for a spin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Again, on the funkier side, Tilahun Gessesse (spellings vary) is a name that's worthwhile investigating. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 20/08/2021 at 3:51 PM, HutchFan said:

I'm sure that Magnificent Goldberg would have plenty of ideas to offer.

Wish he was still active on the board.

 

Nope. I don't go for Ethiopian stuff. A couple of decades ago, the guy who used to import US CDs for me, gave me an Ethiopian album that came from his supplier in the USA by mistake on the grounds that it was African and I might be interested.

It was an album of Jewish liturgical music from Ethiopia and the most horrible music I've ever heard! I gave it to a colleague who, when I told him how horrid it was said he might like it.

In the sixties, my Mum had a lodger from Ethiopia - a student who'd come to learn English better. He was very hip. Loved Sam Cooke AND Dr Lonnie Smith; thought musicians put their best hats on when working for Blue Note. So I'm happy to believe that there's some stuff I'd like in Ethiopia.

(For future reference, I don't have anything from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini or Botswana.

MG

PS Oh, or Liberia or Togo or Angola or Chad or Central African Republic or Guinea Bissau (though GB does have a bit of stuff I might like, so that's not a closed book).

MG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've yet to hear or purchase any Ethiopian Jewish Liturgical music, but I'd like to, maybe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is perhaps my favorite of the series.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

No particular reason to, but if you had to listen to just one of Mulatu's albums, I'd say this is probably 'the' classic: https://mulatuastatke.bandcamp.com/album/mulatu-of-ethiopia

He rerecorded a number of his classics with a band called the Heliocentrics a few years back on a record called 'Inspiration Information'. It's an absolutely amazingly produced record: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqVhPybzfVE - great sound, great playing.

I've actually played in Mulatu's touring band for the last 11-12 years or so. The thing with Ellington was a State Department tour in the early 70s. I can't remember what they played together (he did tell me the story), but if the Covid travel regulations stay as they are at the moment, we have some gigs next month, so I'll ask. Interestingly, there is some thought that the concert was recorded for the radio, but the tapes are missing - I seem to remember someone saying that they were looking for them (unsurprisingly). [ I've only played on one of his records, but it does include this really great song featuring the totally incredible Fatoumata Diawara: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6q0ibCVBFGA]

A couple of Mulatu-related tributaries: the Jim Jarmusch film 'Broken Flowers' features his music very heavily. And also, for hip hop fans, this is a Mulatu sample (the tune is 'Yegelle Tezeta'): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMGd3mAfl-0

Agree with lots of the other recommendations here. Getatchew Merkurya - unbelievable tenor playing. He's also done some really interesting collaborations, including with The Ex. For singers, I agree - two of the iconic figures are Tilahoun Gessesse and Mahmoud Ahmed. And vol. 21 of Ethiopiques for sure - Emahoy's piano playing is absolutely stunning. And like others - I really like Hailu Mergia!

 

 

Edited by Alexander Hawkins

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.