‘ Once again the compass needle points to Africa, but not towards its well-researched anglophone and francophone music scene. This time it points straight to Ethiojazz, a form of Ethiopian soul music that reached the Western audience with Jim Jarmusch’s Broken Flowers soundtrack in 2004 for the first time.’ Jonathan Fischer, Die Zeit Newspaper.
From 1969 to 1974, music in Ethiopia entered an explosive period of intense output and vibrant creativity. In these few years genres like soul and funk, jazz and fusion existed side by side. This might sound like musicians had been simply borrowing from western music, but that wasn’t the case. It wasn’t about copying a style, or adding one to another.
‘It was more about being of service to the rich treasure of Ethiopian music, their scales and vocal styles by providing new musical environments.’
Detlef Diederichsen, TAZ Newspaper.
Mastermind of this revolutionary mix was Mulatu Astatke. His encounter with Duke Ellington is legendary. They met when the American jazz giant came to Addis Ababa in 1972 and had some of Ethiopia’s music translated to jazz arrangements. ‘He listened to me excitedly’, remembers Mulatu. Then he said: ‘Mulatu, I would never have expected to find something like this in Africa.’
And yet, Jazz and Ethiopian music do have much in common – ‘from polyrhythms to special intervals within the scales.’ JJ Whitefield.
‘On the one hand, the compositions seem warm, familiar and well-known, and on the other hand they sound odd, even mysterious. It’s a fascinating melange, far ahead of the mix of styles we hear today. Historical, avant-garde, and still sounding so incredibly fresh and timeless four decades later.’ Die Zeit Newspaper.
In the mid 90s, french music archaeologist and journalist Francis Falceto started to re-release Ethiopian music from the 60s and 70s. His ‘Ethiopiques’ catalogue numbers over 30 CDs. This was a great discovery and an inspiration for many young musicians who were trying to find the original pressings which haven’t been produced since 1978. ‘When Mulatu Astatke performed in London after a decades long stage break, his music immediately caught the attention of young producers, and the album ‘Inspiration Information’ by ‘The Heliocentrics’, released in 2009, exposed the great master of Ehtio jazz and his brilliant music to a new audience.
‘Mulatu Astatke fused his profound Ethiopian musicality with European instruments such as trumpet, clarinet and piano. Today his main instrument is the vibraphone which he introduced into Ethiopian popular music. Soft, light and perfectly calm he floats inbetween cultures.’ Die Zeit Newspaper.
Beyond Addis presents a collection of many top bands and some of the best music from Paris to London, from Geneva to New York and Munich, all inspired by the Ethio Jazz Sound of Swinging Addis.