Mulatu, on his first international release, bears witness to an extraordinarily rich career, that has him hailed as the father of Ethio-jazz. From his musical studies at Trinity College London and Berklee College of Music, through groundbreaking recordings for the legendary Amha label in Addis Ababa's golden age, to his contribution to a recent Jim Jarmush film, his adoption by the musical youth of Europe and the States and sampling by hip hop royalty, Astatke has a unique musical history. His new album, Sketches of Ethiopia, brings to mind the great arrangements of Gil Evans and late Ellingtonian tone poems and is an homage to the rhythms and dances of Mulatu's homeland that still provide the engine for his music. It's also evidence that the grand old man of Ethio-jazz is not standing still. Still finding new ways to express his music, he's brought together a top team of the UK's golden generation of young improvising talent, some of the finest new Ethiopian voices and the unique vocal talents of Malian diva Fatoumata Diawara to create the strongest album of his late flowering.
Sketches of Ethiopia. Listening to Mulatu Astatke, it is clear he chose this album title for a reason. "The music creates a whole array of emotions, a multi-coloured palette. Each harmony and melody evokes a very distinct feeling. That was why I chose this title, which highlights the spiritual diversity that gave birth to the music, and which encompasses the idea that I am talking about all of Ethiopia, from North to South, from East to West. And even about the diaspora communities! The same is true of the sounds used which range from Ethio-jazz to the most experimental musical forms. All these elements align to sketch a portrait of Ethiopia." Without a doubt, these eight tracks come together to create a unique panorama which puts into perspective the diversity which characterizes the Horn of Africa, and the way this diversity resonates beyond its place of origin. Certain listeners will not fail to notice echoes of Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis, a reference underlined by the elusive trumpet-playing of Londoner, Byron Wallen. But this latest work just as easily brings to mind the great African Suites of the father of jazz, often compared with Mulatu Astatke, Duke Ellington.
This album, in both its musical execution and its raison d'être, is above all a journey through Ethiopia, a country where there are as many instruments as there are tribes". The masinko, a single-stringed bowed lute, the antique krar, a six-string lyre, and the washint, a bamboo flute,
Veranstalter: Hush Hush GmbH
Fotocredit: Alexis Maryon