Revel in the Sounds of Ethio-Jazz

Yes, we all know American legends like Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and Ella Fitzgerald, all of whom brought jazz up to a new level of excellence, but have you ever stopped to explore the divergent paths of this genre so loved by our grandparents? I introduce you to Mulatu Astatke, the quintessential Ethiopian musician and father of Ethio-Jazz–your new favorite musical niche.

Blending together sounds and musical traditions ranging three continents, Mr. Astatke has based his career on a deluxe international education and has found continued success in his home country of Ethiopia since the ’70s. His musical style can best be described as a blend of Latin music and traditional American jazz sounds mixed under an Ethiopian ear. His song “Shagu,” featured here as an example of his artistic prowess, starts off with clapping and transitions to a melody led by Mr. Astatke’s signature instrument–the vibraphone.

The instrumentals are great for light dancing and just general enjoyment, so don’t be afraid to peruse the ample repertoire of Mr. Astatke’s unique blend of sounds, as well as other exponents of the easily overlooked Ethio-Jazz. It is certainly a refreshing take on a genre long classified as “elevator music.”

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