Mulatu Astatke is one of Ethiopia's major musicians. In the late 1950s, he travelled to London, and later Boston and New York, absorbing jazz and Latin music, recording several LPs (one of which, Mulatu of Ethiopia, has become a legend among DJs in recent years), and eventually bringing both modern jazz and Latin influences and specific instruments back home to Addis Ababa. On piano, organ, vibes and percussion, with his arrangements and compositions, and as an agent provocateur, he became a pivotal figure in a great era of Ethiopian pop and jazz, from 1968 to 1974. To this day, he remains a ubiquitous presence in the Ethiopian music scene, as club owner, music school founder, radio DJ, composer, arranger and instrumentalist.
Hailing from the United Kingdom, the youth-oriented ensemble the Heliocentrics are hard to pigeonhole, though some have dubbed them a contemporary acid jazz band. Led by drummer Malcolm Catto, the band straddles hip-hop, funk, modern creative jazz, psychedelic electronica, and world musics. They acknowledge as influences James Brown, Elvin Jones, David Axelrod, Sun Ra, Ennio Morricone, Stark Reality, and Joyride. Madlib and Yesterday's New Quintet have prominently used Catto's drumming and sampled sounds. The full nonet includes Catto on drums and piano; Jake Ferguson on bass and Thai guitar; Mike Burnham on modular synthesizers and effects; Jack Yglesias on flute, percussion, and santur; Adrian Owusu on guitars, oud, and percussion; James Arben on clarinet and tenor and baritone saxophones; Ray Carless on alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones; Max Weissenfeldt on vibes and percussion; and Khadijatou Silcott-Fraser (K2 Wordplay) on vocals. The Heliocentrics have backed DJ Shadow, Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke on Strut's Inspiration Information, Vol. 3 in 2009, and American poet/activist Melvin Van Peebles.
Mulatu Astatke and The Heliocentrics
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Bass, Conga Drums, Drums, Glockenspiel, Horns, Piano, Synth, and Trumpet
Dramatic, Driving, Funky/Groove, and Percussive/Drums
Afro-Beat and Afro-Pop
Inspiration Information 3