Ages ago I stumbled into a little record store intent on adding to my modest collection of black wax. I’d combed through what felt like endless sleeves of flaky, fading paper with nary a eye-catching find. I’d almost given up hope, but my pass through the last row unearthed Éthiopiques 4, and opened my eyes to the wonder of East African jazz.
The Éthiopiques series thrust me into a whirlwind of funky Ethiopian music from the 1960s and 1970s, pioneered by the masters: Mulatu Astatke, Mahmoud Ahmed, Alemayehu Eshete, and so on. These were unrecognizable names to most, but the good intentioned Buda Music label was crafty enough to unearth and re-release the regional hits to a world audience. What followed was an open valve, beginning a slow and steady trickle of Afrobeat brass, pianos, percussion, and dancing in our lives.
Since then, the influence of East African jazz has been felt elsewhere, most notably as the soundtrack for the 2005 film Broken Flowers, and as a sample in Nas and Damian Marley’s hit single As We Enter. You’ll want to listen to the entire Éthiopiques catalogue, trust me. In the mean time, acquaint yourself with the abridged awesomeness of East African Connection - Ethio and Sudan Mix.
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