Mulatu’s on a roll. Last year was a good one for the legendary Mr Astatke, what with the brilliant collaboration with The Heliocentrics, followed by a blinding career retrospective compliation later in the year. He’s not wasted any time and he’s already got a new album coming out. In the latter part of last year, whilst still basking in long-deserved acclaim, he was busy finishing off Mulatu Steps Ahead. The Heliocentrics are back on board, but this time he’s also recorded with members of Either/Orchestra in Boston, traditional Ethiopian musicians in Addis, and some of the UK’s leading jazz and African players.
It’s a line-up that hints at the sounds that lie in the album - a masterful mixing of Western jazz with Ethiopian music, developing the unique sound he developed during the ‘60s and ‘70s. So basically, if you liked the two records from last year, there’s a good chance this is going to float your boat too. If you’ve not heard these, the new album’s as good a place as any to start. And if you’re unsure, give it a try anyway. You can have a listen to it here, or download Green Africa. The other track below is the classic Yegelle Tezeta (on the complilation) which has been sampled by Nas and Damian Marley on their song As We Enter.
Mulatu Steps Ahead is out on 29 March on Strut Records. Buy from Rough Trade.