Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mulatu Astatke, Sketches of Ethiopia

The anthology Ethiopiques woke many of us up, myself included, to how hip the funky Ethiopian version of Afrobeat/Afrojazz was. And now as we contemplate a new year I am glad to say that new Ethiopian music in this vein is emerging afresh.

Mulatu Astatke has a good one out on Jazz Village (570015) that's called Sketches of Ethiopia. As I listen again while writing up the review this morning I revel in it. Good Ethiopian music of this sort tends to keep bluesy and harmonic minor tonalities intact and puts a hip AfroBeat combination of the tribal and the groove overtop. With the Ethiopian version of this kind of groove there's a bit less of the James Brown influence and just a bit more of the jazz lineage there. So it is with Maestro Astatke; in fact he is even more jazz-oriented here than what you might have heard on Ethiopiques. You hear indigenous stringed instruments rub shoulders with jazz horns, piano, electric bass and drums, grooving down on what is at the base very Ethiopian but then very jazzed as well--with solo time as well as basic feel involved.

Astatke goes back a ways. He collaborated with Duke Ellington, I read on the net. I am not sure I know of that as far as recordings go, but I would certainly want to hear it if it exists out there based on this album! He's been around as percussionist and composer but this is his first album on a well-distributed label. There are some assorted vocals now and then and they are cool. The music speaks in whatever they do here. Don't hesitate!

No comments:

Post a Comment