Ethio Jazz

Addis Ababa - Some seven years ago, a deep, soothing voice used to be heard in the evenings on one of the local radio stations, 97.1FM.

Around 10 o’clock, a voice would start by saying “Yih ye African jazz mender new”, translated as “this is African Jazz Village”.  It was pouring from his heart, talking about jazz, and enlightening the people.
The session used to go on for hours beginning from just the most basic jazz to the genre’s more complicated denominations.

The man behind the show was the pioneer and Ethio-jazz creator Mulatu Astatke, a renowned Ethiopian musician who created a distinctive blend, mixing Ethiopian music with jazz.

“One of the successes after four decades in the music genre, he tells, is making Ethio-jazz a brand all over the world”.

Doing a sound track for the Oscar winning film ‘Broken Flowers’ and winning prestigious international awards, his music is now influencing musicians from different of genres, where his music is sampled by reggae and hip-hop artists.

Even though ‘Yegelle Tezeta’ was done forty years ago, it’s been sampled by the Damian Marley, and Nas’ album Distant Relatives, and it’s even been sampled by the Somali Rapper K’naan in his album Troubadour.  He feels blessed that his songs are being understood by different generations, outside the limits of age.

He has now made it to the top of the summit, touring all over the world, being on various magazine covers, and introducing Ethiopian music to the world.  The latter is what he is most passionate about, but he says that the road he passed was not easy or straightforward.

Ethio-jazz was born when Mulatu Astatke made three albums four decades ago in New York City. While it was not difficult to get acceptance there, trying to get approval when he returned to Ethiopia three decades ago, was a different story. Full Report