Songlines | Ethio-jazz

Ethio-jazz Profile

From the late 1950s through to the 1970s, the thriving music scene in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa resounded to the beat of what became known as Ethio-jazz. Blending Western and Latin sounds with traditional Ethiopian azmari styles based on a five-note pentatonic scale, key artists included Mulatu Astatke, who studied abroad and introduced the vibraphone and conga drums to Ethiopian music, and singers such as Tilahun Gessesse and Mahmoud Ahmed. The ‘Golden Era’ of Swinging Addis came to an end with military dictatorship when record production virtually ceased due to censorship. The historical Éthiopiques series of releases in recent years has revived interest in the genre and given many of the original artists a second career.

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