Mulatu Astatke at The Komedia in Brighton

An Ethiopian legend of jazz was in Brighton last week. 25ThC was so inspired that he left the gig wanting to learn the trumpet:

You may not have heard of the Ethiopian Jazz legend that is Mulatu Astatke but he has been making music for over 50 years pioneering his own genre of Ethio-jazz, melding western jazz with traditional Ethiopian Melodies. I have to admit I only became aware of his presence a couple of years ago when he released the amazing Inspiration Information album with the Heliocentrics but have been a huge fan ever since.

The long queue outside his show at Brighton’s Komedia was an early sign that this was going to be a gig to remember and, once inside, the packed crowd warmly welcomed Mulatu onto the stage as he started straight into his signature melodies. He stood up front in a long white robe and masterfully played the vibraphone, hypnotising the audience and leading his band of accomplished musicians.

Backed by an especially mentionworthy brass section, he played a number of classics and some new material including Motherland as he rotated between vibraphone, piano and congas. The stand out track was Yegelle Tzetza which has recently been sampled by Nas and Damien Marley on their track As We Enter from their Distant Relatives album. You can watch the performance of this track here. He finished the set with another classic by simply stating “This is a track I wrote for myself so I called it Mulatu”. You would be strongly advised to catch Mulatu live if you can or on record if you can’t.

Review by 25ThC