Sure to be an event release if early listens of Sketches of Ethiopia the new album by Ethiojazz pioneer, the great composer and vibes player Mulatu Astatke who is 70 this year, are anything to go by. Tracks are now confirmed as ‘Azmari Piste’, ‘Gamo’, ‘Hager Fiker’, ‘Gambella’, ‘Assosa Derache’, ‘Gumuz’, ‘Motherland Abay’, and ‘Surma’. No confirmed personnel is available so far from French label Jazz Village, home to Ahmad Jamal, who are to release the highly anticipated Sketches of Africa. But as previously reported several UK-based players are included in the band including Decoy’s Alexander Hawkins and John Edwards, and Lineage trumpeter Byron Wallen who was in action last night as the hard bop supergroup made their Ronnie Scott’s debut. Early listen stand-out tracks include ‘Assosa Derache’ with an involving In A Silent Way modal opening featuring some evocative trumpet and an intriguing harmonic build, and ‘Surma’ with Malian singer/guitarist Fatoumata Diawara superb against an infectious reggae vamp. More on Sketches of Ethiopia as release day in September approaches.
Mulatu Astatke above