Mulatu of Ethiopia

For the past few years I've been developing a keen taste for jazz. Not to say that I didn't always like it, I grew up with a healthy serving of Laurindo Almeida, Jean Luc Ponty and Miles Davis of course from being around my dad, but it wouldn't be until my early twenties that I started fully appreciating the variety that can be found in the genre. The three examples I just gave for instance, their sound couldn't be more different really. As a kid it's hard to listen to instrumental music and really be able to break it down and comprehend the complexity of what you're hearing, which is why most kids don't listen to very complex music.

One of my most memorable jazz memories was the first time I heard Mulatu Astatke. Known as "the Father of Ethio-Jazz" and rightfully so as he truly revolutionized the music industry in Ethiopia. A country that was horribly repressed both socially and culturally, you had to get a license to make a record, put on a play, make a film, and even after that, it had to be approved by censors. It was not an easy place to be for a musician. In fact, the only time that records were being manufactured in Ethiopia was between 1969- 1978. Astatke traveled the world, picked up different styles to combine with his own making this Ethiopian/Latin hybrid.

When you hear Astatke's compositions alot of things come to mind. It makes me think of ancient Egypt yet is incredible modern and hip. He has a unique presence that can never be duplicated. So I'm offering his most famous album, if you havent heard him, I give it my utmost reccomendation.

1. Mulatu
2. Mascaram Setaba
3. Dewel
4. Kulunmanqueleshi
5. Kasalefkut-Hulu
6. Munaye
7. Chifara


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