Mulatu Astatke – Mulatu of Ethiopia
1972 – Worthy Records
This is music perfect for a hot summer day, which means I’m listening to it now in hopes of warmer weather. For those who don’t know, Mulatu is the man responsible for “Ethio-Jazz” (a combination of traditional Ethiopian music with Jazz). He is also a vibraphonist, so that doesn’t hurt my enjoyment of the music either. I’m keeping with the African vinyl trend that I started last week (we will have to see if it keeps up for another week). Mr. Astatke has such a relaxed feel to his playing on vibes. He is behind the beat just enough to make the music super comfortable and his lines have a mysterious feel to them. Though this music is reminiscent of the Afrobeat of Nigeria, it has its own quality and feel. It feels more relaxed and laid back than Afrobeat. The horn lines are less punchy and sit back a bit. Ethiopia and Nigeria are on opposite sides of Africa, so it makes sense that they are not carbon copies of each other musically. The arrangements here from Mulatu are amazing. Everything seems to drift in and out with no effort. The grooves are tight and all the musicians fit into their place. I highly suggest checking out any of Mulatu’s albums, they all just feel great to listen to.