Mulatu Astatke: Sketches of Ethiopia

Fri, Sep 27, 2013, 00:00


Sketches Of Ethiopia

Mulatu Astatke

Jazz Village


This veteran Ethiopian bandleader, composer and vibraphonist is widely viewed as the grandmaster of Ethio-jazz. A man well versed in the dynamics of weird-beard psychedelic head sounds, Astatke can be best heard in mind-blowing fettle on various iterations of the Budda Musique Ethiopiques series, the soundtrack to Broken Flowers and the more recent Inspiration Information album with The Heliocentrics. Here, with his fine touring band Step Ahead in tow and the title nodding to Gil Evans’s finest work with Miles Davis, Astatke rolls out elegant, funky and beautifully paced passages. A collaboration with Malian diva (and Damon Albarn vocal foil) Fatoumata Diawara on Surma is a striking gem, but there’s also much enjoyment to be had from hearing the musicians kick up some Addis Ababa funk on Gumuz and the Duke Ellington-tipping Motherland Abay.
Download: Surma, Motherland Abay