Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Ethiopian Knights: Mulatu Astatke 80

Mulatu Astatke - Nètsanèt

Let's continue to dismember December with a milestone trip around the sun for one of the truly master musicians of this world.

Probably the most revered and accomplished of all living musos that hail from Ethiopia, Mulatu Astatke -- and his unique brand of African Jazz -- have been around forever.

Sent by his parents to study Engineering in Wales in the late 1950s, he decided on music upon his arrival in England.

Then he came to America to study, and absorbed the entire musical firmament of the turbulent 1960s in the process.

His first records, made in 1965 and 1966, have a Latin flavor, but he soon became engaged with the nascent Funk sound then coming to dominate music.

All of this gradually coalesced until he was leading his own orchestras at the start of the 1970s, in a pan-stylistic genre he termed "Ethio Jazz".

Equal parts Hard Bop, Latin Jazz and Deep Funk, his records became highly sought after for samples once Hip Hop came on the scene.

Anyway he has indeed been true to his Ethio Jazz vision for five decades now, and as far as I know he still plays at festivals around the globe.

This crackling show dates from his big career renaissance in the 2010s, when a lot of his stuff got reissued and repackaged for the next generations.

This one contains most of his most popular tunes, and funks about as hard as you'd need it to.

Mulatu Astatke
Steps Ahead
Novara Jazz Festival
Piazza Duomo
Novara, Italy

01 FM introduction by Pino Saulo
02 introduction of Mulatu Astatke
03 Dèwèl 
04 Yèkèrmo Sèw 
05 Mulatu's Mood
06 Nètsanèt 
07 Yèkatit
08 The Way to Nice
09 Chik Chikka
10 Motherland
11 Yègellé Tezeta
12 Mulatu
13 Yègellé Tezeta (reprise)
14 FM outro

Total time: 1:30:44
disc break goes after Track 07

Mulatu Astatke - vibraphone, percussion & pianoforte
Byron Wallen - trumpet
James Arben - saxophones, bass clarinet & flute
Dan Keane - keyboards & cello
Kadialy Kouyate - kora
Davide Mantovani - bass
Tom Skinner - drums
Richard Olatunde Baker - percussion

digital capture of an analog Radio 3 RAI broadcast from October 2010
retracked & remastered -- with FM intro edited -- by EN, December 2023
653 MB FLAC/direct link

I will return on Saturday with some very swinging Water for under your Bridge, and then it's on to Christmas in Margaritaville, salt shaker optional.

Until the weekend, I'm counting on you to tune in to this little blast of Radio Ethiopia, as we celebrate the 80th birthday of Mulatu Astatke, one of that country's most beloved sons.--J.