My blog is on holiday until Wednesday, December 30, 2020 as I attend to other writing commitments. I am also doing a lot of calculations to see whether the current proposed US stimulus bill that the lameduck president is holding up as a last gasp exercise in power is sufficient given the output gap. This relates to comments that a Biden advisor made last week eschewing any notion of a $US2,000 cash payment to all Americans (including dependent children) on the grounds that it would overheat the economy. He has been systematically vilified by progressives but I haven’t seen any systematic analysis to see whether this statements hold up. Until Wednesday, all the best from my lockdown hub. But for today, some music to help us work better.
Music – Jazz from Ethiopia
This is what I have been listening to while working this morning. I decided to get into sync with the research I have been doing today on currency developments in Africa.
And, after all, jazz really came from a fusion of African musical elements with European traditions.
So where better to go but to the ‘father of Ethio-jazz’ – Mulatu Astatke – who is one of the great vibraphone players (not to mention his skills in conga drums, percussion and organ).
He is not a big name in Western jazz but to me, he has been a real pioneer and I love the sequence of his albums from early Latin elements (picked up while studying in the US) to his later work fusing pure African influences using Ethiopian instrumentation (such as the chordophone or Krar).
In that later case, the standard pentatonic scale (the Krar is tuned to it) was a perfect way to integrate more Western instruments into his style of jazz.
This song – Yèkèrmo Sèw (A Man of Experience and Wisdom) – is from the 1969 release – Ethiopian Modern Instrumental Hits (released Amha Record).
Amha Records – fled Ethiopia in 1975 after the military junta took over.
It was re-released on the 1998 volume – Éthiopiques 4: Ethio Jazz & Musique Instrumentale 1969-1974 (Buda records), which featured the music of Mulatu Astatke.
This CD is still available.
The song is based on the pentatonic scale in the minor key.
You can hear the impro from the 1960s Fender Rhodes piano – the sound that defined the late 1960s modern jazz sound.
And the fuzz box on the guitar. That was the most aimed for guitar invention that aspiring guitarists in the late 1960s wanted. What a sound!
This track is fusion personified.
He toured Australia in 2016 and I saw him playing at the Melbourne Jazz Festival with the Melbourne band the – Black Jesus Experience. Before COVID, this band would play each weekend at The Horn African Cafe in Johnston Street, Collingwood, just near the ‘centre of the world’ (well my world anyway).
Here is an interesting bio from 2018 – The father of Ethiopian jazz, Mulatu Astatke, remains a musician in motion.
That is enough for today!
(c) Copyright 2020 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.