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Mulatu Astatke

Mulatu of Ethiopia

The Chosen One #14

If only having a superficial knowledge of continental African music, the name 'Mulatu' would likely be one of the names that arose: a reason for  that may well be this seminal 1972 album. Transcending its era, it is thanks to long-time Astatke supporters Strut Records that 'Mulatu in Ethiopia' returns, re-released in both stereo and mono forms from Gil Snapper's Worthy Records. The vibraphonist's travels took him to the UK then onto the US, where he strove to adapt the hypnotic jumps in intervals of the pentatonic scale, a hallmark of Ethiopian music, to his British and Berklee College music education. It led to this collection's birth taking place in New York where Mulatu recorded the seven tracks herein.

'Mulatu' opens the expedition with a typically undulating melody before the diversity then nods towards Brazil's Bossa Nova on 'Mascaram Setaba'. It is tranches of Free-Jazz,sandwiched unexpectedly between the longer phrases of breezy, captivating swinging Jazz, dictated by the tenor sax spearheading an inspired horn section.

With elements of sound-of-the-times Funk, Mulatu makes the point without assuming on trumpet-led 'Kasalefkut-Hulu', expressing an irresistible motif followed by the freedom-Funk of 'Munaye'. The LP's extended coda is 'Chifara' continues Astatke's predilection for the 'wah-wah' effect, supporting more  mood-soaked horn lines and organ-ventures over 7 minutes.

Spanning less than half an hour,

a piece of eternal music

history was formed. Get

yourself a slice on 19th May.


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