Following his acclaimed Inspiration Information collaboration with The Heliocentrics, the Father of Ethio jazz Mulatu Astatke presents his brand new studio album, Mulatu Steps Ahead, this Spring.
The album explores new directions in fusions of Western jazz with Ethiopian modes, moving forward the pioneering sound Mulatu developed during the '60s and '70s, showcased on the recent Strut compilation New York - Addis - London. For the new album, tracks were recorded with members of Either/Orchestra in Boston, with contributions by traditional Ethiopian musicians in Addis, members of The Heliocentrics and some of the U.K.'s leading jazz and African players during the final sessions in London in November 2009.
Each track on the album tells its own story. The reflective, meandering opener, Radcliffe," was composed specifically for the Radcliffe Institute during Mulatu's time lecturing at Harvard in Boston - the original score is now framed on the wall there. The Way To Nice" was written and arranged on the tour bus during Mulatu's recent French dates. With this track, you are traveling on a long journey, talking and thinking," he explains. It was inspired by the many beautiful places on the coast road around Nice."
Assosa" adapts traditional music from the Assosa tribes in North-Western Ethiopia and Mulatu's Mood" re-works a Mulatu jazz fusion composition from the early '90s into a new swinging Afro high life arrangement. I wanted to use West African styles within this version and try new ways of using the beautiful sound of the kora," explains Mulatu.
Boogaloo" and I Faram Gami I Faram" reprise Mulatu classics with new, fuller scores while the bonus digital track Derashe" highlights the traditional diminishing scales of the Derashe people of Southern Ethiopia, a musical technique that would later feature in the classical compositions of Debussy and the jazz of Charlie Parker. Says Mulatu, Many debate how this music developed but the Derashe have played these scales for centuries. It is an untold story."
Mulatu Steps Ahead Track Listing
2. Green Africa
3. The Way To Nice
5. I Faram Gami I Faram
6. Mulatu's Mood
7. Ethio Blues
10. Derashe (bonus track; digital only)
For more on Mulatu Astatke see our exclusive feature/interview here.