Getatchew Mekurya is probably the most revered veteran of Ethiopian saxophone. A real giant, both physically and musically. Not only is he at the very top level of Ethiopian saxophonists, but he is the ‘inventor’ of an extremely distinctive musical ‘style.’
Alèmayèhu Eshèté is no less than one of the great voices of the heyday of modern Ethiopian music, the swinging sixties which, in this country, went on until the fall of the Emperor Haile Sellassie 1 in 1974. On a par with Tlahoun Gèssèssè, Bzunèsh Bèqèlè or Mahmoud Ahmed, Alèmayèhu is a star at the top level of the constellation that once lit up the wild nights in the capital.
Created in Brussels in 2015, Azmari is a weaving musical odyssey that expertly fuses ethiogroove, dub, psychfunk and eastern sounds. Azmari, literally “one who praises” in Amharic, is an Ethiopian singer-musician, comparable to the European bard or the West African griot often accompanied with a masenqo – one-stringed fiddle or krar – lyre, two traditional ethiopian instruments. The nine tracks that make up debut album ‘Sama’i’, released via Sdban UItra, is a deeply hypnotic experience where mesmerising rhythms and winding improvisations send the listener in to a higher state of consciousness. From the magical sax of album opener ‘Zegiyitwali’, to the dubby template of ‘Cosmic Masadani’ and joyous horns of ‘Kugler’, Azmari seamlessly blend African and oriental melodies with effortless precision, providing a fresh take on the ethiojazz sound. Elsewhere, the heavy, rhythmic sounds of ‘Tariq Al Sahara’ and the mystical and cosmological ‘Azalai’ continue our sacred journey full of raging saxes and wig-out percussion, while the free-spirited, trippy ‘Kadikoy’ coming in at nine minutes in duration, lends a trance-like quality to proceedings where psychedelic jazz meets afro-funk.
Presented in collaboration with Sheba Sound, and originally released on the ‘Eastern Connections’ this compilation was Paradise Bangkok’s first foray into East African music. This album presents a selection of contemporary recordings from Ethiopia, an ancient country where incredible musical traditions have been brewing for centuries, unbeknownst to much of the Western world. The Horn of Africa nation is most often associated with the famous Ethio-Funk sounds produced during the latter years of the Imperial era, which lasted until 1974. But in this defiant culture – Ethiopia was the only African state never to be colonised by Western powers – the golden age for music never ended, despite decades of war and social upheaval. Ethiopia is home to over 80 ethnic groups, each with its own deep-rooted language and culture. Contemporary musicians living outside Addis Abeba, the capital, have little opportunity to record their mesmerizing sounds. Sheba Sound is redressing this by recording and releasing high-end audio music of local stars. So far, Sheba Sound have recorded more than 25 groups in ‘pop-up’ studios across Ethiopia.
The Sorcerers began working on the new album during the winter of 2018 and it was during the writing sessions for this album that the concept for the LP began to take shape. The name for the album was taken from the title of a National Geographic article read by Bassist Neil Innes and was used as the starting point for the entire concept. The library music scene of the 60s and 70s has always been an intrinsic part of the sound of ATA Records and so it made perfect sense to envisage the album as a soundtrack, given the cinematic quality of The Sorcerers music. Each track was written with a particular scene in mind and the music was then shaped in the studio to best reflect the essence of that scene. Drums, Bass and Percussion provide the solid foundation onto which Flutes, Bass Clarinets, Xylophones and Vibraphones add the atmospheric and melodic counterpoint, deftly weaving between one another to conjure up images of the unforgiving environment of the dense jungle, unknown eyes watching the protagonists of the imagined film as they make their way towards their ultimate goal, their pursuit by unseen assailants, the arcane mysticism of undiscovered cargo cultists and the ancient ruins of long passed civilisations.
‘Summoning The Monkey God’ covers a wide range of influences: Ethiopiques Ethio-Jazz rubs up against European library music of the 60s and 70s. The Sorcerers seamlessly blend these disparate elements into one cohesive sound. Based in ATA Records’ home of Leeds, The Sorcerers form the backbone of the ATA Records house band including drummer Joost Hendrickx (Kefaya, Shatner’s Bassoon, Abstract Orchestra) and ATA label heads Neil Innes (Bass & Guitar) and Pete Williams (Woodwinds & Percussion). Bass clarinets, flutes, and esoteric percussion that sit alongside bass, guitar and drums are essential to The Sorcerers sound providing cinematic textures on top of a solid rhythmic foundation.
Leeds soul and funk label ATA Records announce the new single from The Sorcerers. This single is a driving Ethiojazz track aimed squarely at the dancefloor, backed by the Yorkshire Film & Television’s original recording of “The Anderson Spectrum”. Taking influences from Ethiopiques Ethiojazz as well as the soundtracks to the European horror films of the 60s and 70s, The Sorcerers seamlessly blend these disparate elements into one cohesive package.
If you’ve been digging the brilliant Ethiopiques series of compilations, which shine a light on the lesser-known Ethiopian music scene of the 1960s and ’70s, you’ll love this lavishly produced box set. Put together by series founder Francis Falceto, the box boasts fresh pressings of six impossible-to-find 7″ singles and a booklet containing extensive liner notes. The musical treats come thick and fast, quickly jumping between evocative Ethiopian jazz, unique fusions of rhythm and blues and traditional East African styles, Hammond-heavy groovers and exotic dancefloor workouts that defy easy categorization. Includes tracks from great Ethiopian artists like : Mulatu Astatke, Girma Beyene, Mahmoud Hamed, Getatchew Mekuria, Tilahun Gessesse.
During the 1970s, Tilahun Gessesse enjoyed a successful career in his native Ethiopia. Blessed with a sublime voice, he specialized in creating popular hybrids of hot American styles – most notably soul and jazz – with traditional Ethiopian styles. Sima!, which is named after one of his most revered 7″ singles, gather together music from numerous releases throughout the 1970s. It boasts numerous gems that see Gessesse combine his bold, snaking vocals with rocking rhythms, modal jazz mysticism, and heart-aching ballads. Given the standards of recording studios in Ethiopia at the time, much of the material is notably lo-fi, sound wise, but in many ways that enhances the intoxicating feel of the music. A killer selection from one of the leading vocalists from the golden age of Ethiopian music, ranging from 1969-1975. If Ethio-funk, soul and pentatonic, Sun Ra-esque moods are your bag, you’ve come to the right place.
Trio Kazanchis got together by coincidence in 2009 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s musical hotspot while playing Jam Sessions in Melaku Belay’s Club Fendika and Mulatu Astatke’s own African- Jazz Club before touring Europe most underground venues and related festivals. The original line-up is Jeroen Visser (NL, Baritonsax & FarfisaOrgan), Mesele Asmamaw (ETH, Krar & Vox) and Fabien Duscombs (F, Drums). Endris Hassen (ETH, masinqo) joined the group in 2013 (he’s the +1). Kazanchis +1 plays songs with an Ethiopian origin, either modern or traditional, and an European 80’s touch combined with free energetic improvisation using highly-developed Ethiopian pentatonic scales for slow trance-like to up-tempo energetic moods. The band’s choice of instruments showed itself on European stages as very elastic, nicely melting together, as well as a challenging combination, all in all successful. Mesele Asmamaw, described as the Jimi Hendricks on his instrument the electric Krar (the 6-string Ethiopian Lyre), has become known as innovator & virtuose of his instrument in Ethiopia. Fabien Duscombs, the quicksilver drummer from Toulouse lays down the perfect grid for Mesele to play his syncopating accents. Jeroen Visser glues them two tightly together providing bass and chords with his Farfisa Organ/Synth, or challenges with his baritone sax. Since summer 2013 the amazing Masinqo-player (one stringed violin) Endris Hassen has become full member of the group, completing the sound and surprisingly even reinforcing the Trio-Feel.