Chris May at The Vinyl Factory has done a great job making choices for introducing their vinyl junkie readership to the best of Ethiopian jazz from the 1960s onward. Special thanks to Al Clark for pointing this wonderful link out to me.
There’s no one even close in the running of who is the King of Ethio-jazz. Until he passes on from this mortal coil, this title is Mulatu Astatke’s to keep.
This record is from May of 2016, and it features him pairing up with the Australian jazz collective Black Jesus Experience. This is the first I’ve heard of them, but they meld quite nicely with Mulatu’s vibraphone-based works.
Lebanese DJ and crate-digger supreme Ernesto Chahoud has done sterling work collecting some of the most impressive 7-inch sides to come out of Ethiopia. BBE Records has done a great job in remastering and packaging this collection. What I’m looking most forward to is seeing the 3-LP collection. It looks gorgeous.
Girma Bèyènè was one of the leading lights of Ethio-jazz during the 1960s and 1970s, before the rotten Deng ruined music for decades. He moved on to Washington D.C. and continued to make music with fellow Ethiopian ex-pats. He ended up getting asked by French band Akalé Wubé to come out of retirement and sing, and this groovy cut is but one of the tracks they paired up with. Their collaboration album is available on Bandcamp.
Some funky Ethiopian soul, courtesy of Mahmoud Ahmed, one of the best voices of the old guard.