Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Mulatu Astatke

  • New York-Addis-London: The Story of Ethio Jazz 1965-1975 [Strut, 2009] A-

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New York-Addis-London: The Story of Ethio Jazz 1965-1975 [Strut, 2009]
Astatke's "Heliocentrics" album rules because like most fusioneers he's too interested in upward mobility to state the groove in the vulgar manner of a committed dance musician. But hear enough variations on those fermented Ethiopian scales and you'll learn to savor the piquancy of his voicings. Unlike the purely Addis Ethiopiques 4 collection, which provides eight of these 20 tracks, this overview dips into his montunos and charangas, his flute and steel drum hires, his vibraphone excursions. When I crave those scales straight I may well return to the Abyssinian source. But this is longer--and more flavorsome as well. A-