Back in the late nineties I stumbled upon a CD entitled Ethiopiques. After listening to it I realized that I wasn't as funky as I, a young twenty-something chicano kid, thought I was. I knew James Brown. Who doesnt? I was just getting into Fela Kuti, who you should know. But, this was Eastern African. Arabian style modes and scales. Polyrhythms in 4 and 6 stacking on each other. Menacing riffs. Like The JB's armed with a bunch of those squiggly knives. At the heart of this new found world of Ethiopian music was my man, Mulatu Astatke. The father of "Ethio jazz". This guy is to popular Ethiopian music like what Duke Ellington is to jazz. There's just no way around him and America is finally catching on.
This compilation covers his early years when he studied in London and New York (he was also the first African to attend Harvard) and his triumphant return back to Ethiopia. All killer. No filler.