Posts Tagged ‘Mulatu Astatke’
Mulatu Astatke, Thomas Mapfumo and Ginger Baker all set to play London festival
The British festival season is rapidly creeping up on us, and Field Day in London’s Victoria Park is one of the first to look out for. Taking place on Saturday May 25, the one day event has built up a reputation over recent years for collating a whole host of rising and established music acts from both home and abroad.
This year is arguably the strongest yet, with Ethio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke and the founder of Zimbabwean chimurenga Thomas Mapfumo joining Animal Collective, Ginger Baker Jazz Confusion, Charanjit Singh, Everything Everything and Kurt Vile.
We are excited to have a pair of tickets to give away for the festival. Click here to enter. Winners will be announced on May 13.
Read our festival feature in the current issue of Songlines, including our top UK and international festival choices.
Got a dose of the January blues? Well, my suggestion would be to make your way to Glasgow for a much-needed, life-affirming shot of fabulous music courtesy of Celtic Connections – the annual folk, roots and world music extravaganza, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
First of all, a couple of mind-boggling stats to get your head round: there will be over 2,100 artists from across the world descending on Glasgow, playing at over 20 venues over the duration of 18 nights. So, with that in mind, you’ll hopefully appreciate that it’s been quite a job trying to choose my highlights and with so many to choose from, look out for another blog tomorrow with my choices for the second half of the festival.
The 20th anniversary opening concert tonight looks set to be a rousing affair with a stellar line-up including a ‘Who’s Who’ of Celtic talent: performers include Eddi Reader, Julie Fowlis, Flook, Cara Dillon, Capercaillie, Chris Stout and Phil Cunningham plus a host of others (January 17, Concert Hall).
English folk often gets overlooked with such an abundance of local talent, but no fear of that happening this year, with Spotlight England being one of the partners of this year’s Showcase Scotland. Artists performing include Sam Carter (January 31, Tron Theatre), Spiro (January 31, St Andrew’s in the Square), Bellowhead (February 1, O2 ABC), Lucy Ward (pictured left) (February 1, St Andrew’s in the Square), Bella Hardy (February 2, Tron Theatre) and the Tom McConville Band (February 3, Mitchell Theatre).
Galician piper and firm favourite at Celtic Connections is Carlos Núñez who is performing with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (January 19, Concert Hall).
Irish faves Kíla team up with the young, much talked about young Gaelic band Mànran for what promises to be a night to test out your Gaelic dance moves (January 19, O2 ABC).
Ethio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke will be bringing his cool vibes sound and his extraordinary band to the wonderful Old Fruitmarket (January 20, Old Fruitmarket).
Irish trio Fidil who were lauded with a recent Top of the World review in #83 for their latest album The Old Wheel of Fortune (January 22, National Piping Centre).
The ever-inventive Martin Green (accordionist in Lau, pictured right) brings his latest project called Crows’ Bones to one of the festival’s most beautiful venues, St Andrew’s in the Square. Spooky music and ghost tales are guaranteed with Becky Unthank and Inge Thompson, plus nyckelharpist Niklas Roswall (January 23, St Andrew’s in the Square).
More recommendations tomorrow….
If you can’t make it to Glasgow, then fret not, you’ll be able to sample some of the music by tuning into Mary-Ann Kennedy on Radio 3’s World on 3 programme. She’ll be broadcasting live from the Royal Concert Hall on January 18, 25 and February 1.
Julie Fowlis, Duncan Chisholm & co.
Words by Birikiti Pegram, Songlines intern
Last Wednesday evening at the Royal Geographic Society, an audience was treated to a whistle stop tour of Ethiopia’s contribution to global music, culture and science by Ethio-jazz founder Dr Mulatu Astatke. From the discovery of ‘Lucy’, the world’s oldest known evidence of a human skeleton, on Ethiopian soil; to his own personal story of the evolution of Ethio-jazz; plus a sprinkling of wonderful random facts like the tef flour of national staple, injera, being the food of ancient Egyptian pharaohs; and the largest world export of roses coming from Ethiopia… it seemed he only just scratched the surface of the country’s rich heritage.
“Music is a science, and our African indigenous musicians are scientists of sound.”
He argued that the diminished scale made famous by great jazz musicians such as Charlie Parker has been a centuries old foundation of the Dirashe tribe’s repertoire – long before it became a signature sound of modern jazz, or used by great composers such as Debussy and Bach. Similarly, the ancient horns and pipes of so-called ‘primitive’ tribes are merely the first trumpets, saxophones and flutes of the world, while the movements made with the mekwamia (ancient conducting stick) in directing church music are a demonstrable predecessor to traditional Western conducting of classical orchestras and military marching bands.
Delving deeper into the very scientific nature of Ethiopia’s musical system, Dr Astatke attempted an explanation of its complex notation structure – again, probably the oldest in the world: a set of eight ornate figures in which you can see potential origins of some Western notational symbols.
He blitzed through the four musical modes that are the foundation of all Ethiopian songs. These modes are the basis of his own established ‘rules of Ethio-jazz’, a fusion of Ethiopian five tone scales played against the Western 12 note scale.
He also touched on his current krar modernisation project. He is developing the pentatonic (five tone scale) Ethiopian lyre to accommodate a 12 tone scale in an attempt to encourage the youth of the nation to take up the instrument over guitar – similar to what has happened in Western Africa with the modification of kora tunings – to play with Western instruments.
An intriguing talk, unfortunately made more so by the straining necessary to catch every word uttered by the mumbling genius, over a badly synced audio-visual display. My only regret was how much better the experience might have been with the basic consideration of audibility being taken by the organisers.
On November 7, during World Travel Market week, the ‘father of Ethio-jazz,’ Mulatu Astatké, will discuss Ethiopia’s contribution to world music at the Royal Geographical Society.
Mulatu is known as the father of Ethio-jazz, a unique blend of pop, modern jazz, traditional Ethiopian music, Latin rhythms, Caribbean reggae, and Afro-funk.
Ranking among the most influential African musicians of all-time, Dr Astatké is a composer, arranger, performer, fellow of Harvard University and an advisor for African Scholarship at Berkeley College, Boston.
His music has been widely acclaimed for over 50 years and the Ethiopiques CD series has opened up a new audience for his ‘Ethio-jazz’ experiments. But it wasn’t until Jim Jarmusch’s Broken Flowers film featured his music that momentum started to gather and a young generation of urban artists started sampling his music, the greatest example being Nas & Damian Marley’s sample of ‘Yegelle Tezeta’.
The RGS event will include an exhibition of Lisa Bentick’s Hipstamatic images from her recent travels in Ethiopia.
Ticket holders will also be able to explore the Society’s rich Ethiopian collections, a coffee ceremony, music and dancing, to be followed by a reception at the nearby Ethiopian Embassy.
To book your tickets, please click here.
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Mulatu Astatké will also be playing at London’s Koko Club in Camden on November 18, as part of the London Jazz Festival in association with BBC3. Tickets can be purchased here.