Sunday Jazz: Mulatu Astatke, “Yegelle Tezela”

I recently finished listening to the upcoming studio release from Dengue Fever, Cannibal Courtship. As I was writing my review for Popdose, one of the things I mentioned as an ingredient to their unique sound was Ethiopian jazz (or Ethio-jazz). But it occurred to me that I had never actually heard Ethiopian jazz, so I did a little digging. Wow, good stuff!

Sadly, this clever and fun hybrid of jazz and traditional Ethiopian music (which utilizes the pentatonic scale, hence its exotic sound) was largely silenced following that country’s Derg junta of 1974. Since the 1990s, however, people outside Ethiopia have had the chance to hear those excellent, grooving sounds largely courtesy of the sprawling, comprehensive Éthiopiques CD series.

Here’s one of the first tracks I stumbled upon, from Éthiopiques, Vol. 4. It’s a composition by Mulatu Astatke called “Yegelle Tezela.” Dig it!

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