In short, Astatke is a big fish in the Ethiopian jazz pond. He studied music in England and is reportedly the first African student to attend the Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts. He’s credited with combining Ethiopian melodies with Western funk and jazz to create what often gets called “hypnotic grooves”, most notably on the Ethiopiques album series (which came out in the 1990s to spotlight Ethiopian music from the 1960s and ’70s). He was also a guest artist with the Duke Ellington orchestra when they played Ethiopia in the ’70s.
At his recent performance at Koko in Camden, Astatke, now in his late 60s, took the helm at the vibraphone, surrounded on all sides by the younger members of the Heliocentrics on horns, cello, percussion, drums, guitar, keys and bass. Cutting through lush textures of organ, guitar and bass, Astatke hunched over the vibes and went to work.
The full post is at INTELLIGENT LIFE.