Wednesday, December 27, 2017

v.a. - Mitmitta Musika [ethiopia]

         Entire contet of this page is taken from Tumblr webpage of guy named DJ Mitmitta, or Kidus Berhanu or Vemund Hareide as he is titled in his Norwegian passport, and this blog post (from december 2013).

           He is true archaelogist of ethiopian vinyl and cassette releases and his devotion to rare ethiopian music is unique.

DJ Mitmitta

Curiosity and frustration can take you far. It has for Kidus Berhanu. Better known as DJ Mitmitta or Vemund Hareide as he is titled in his Norwegian passport, these virtues have taken him all the way from Oslo to the Ethiopian countryside. For Kidus, it all started with a frustration with the uniformity of Western music. A frustration that fed his curiosity to discover the yet undiscovered musical treasures of Ethiopia and led to a commitment to archive and spread the joy of Ethiopian music. This has since materialized in countless travels across the country to collect cassettes with traditional Ethiopian music and the Ethiojazz of the 60s and 70s, and in the founding of Mitmitta Music Shop in 2010 (The shop is currently closed but Kidus is hoping to reopen in a few months at a new location in town.)

This is a journey not unlike others. Awesome Tapes’ Brian Shimkovitz, Sahels Sounds’ Christopher Kirkley and labels such as Soundway, Analog Africa and Sublime Frequencies have embarked on similar voyages. But what distinguish the musical odyssey of Kidus is not only its East African focus. It is also its material character and the focus on the local market opposed to international distribution. For Kidus, the modus operandi has not been spreading the music through a blog nor through reissuing old vinyl records. Not yet. The approach has instead been one of collecting, cataloguing and digitalizing.

The Archaeology of Cassettes 

More than anything, Kidus’ project is an endeavor into musical archaeology and ethnography. And it’s a project focused on and redeemed through tapes (his cassette collection now numbers more than a thousand different Ethiopian tapes). As he explains: “Vinyl is hyped. And tapes are still a popular format. In Ethiopia, a lot of the good old music was never issued on vinyl or on CD.”  However, the predominance of cassettes also makes Kidus’ point to one of several caveats in the music industry and to an irony in his own project. Because while the cassette is his preferred format, it was exactly the spread of the cassette in the late 70’s and onwards that exterminated numerous record labels in Ethiopia and on the rest of continent and gave way for cheaper productions and musicians being replaced by a single synthesizer.

In Ethiopia, the record producers and music shop owners could buy one master tape and then easily duplicate this via cheap blank tapes. An early form of musical piracy that resulted in low quality recordings, unduly low prices and a situation where great Ethiopian artists such as Tilahun Gessesse or Mahmoud Ahmed received only a one-off payment and no benefits of potential future distributions. This however can possibly change with the introduction of a new copyright law in Ethiopia in 2010 that led to many music-shop owners being jailed for copying music for piracy purposes.

Ethiopian Music as off-limit for Ethiopians

Another and somewhat bizarre consequence of the functioning of the Ethiopian music industry prior to the 2010 copyright legislation is that today only very few Ethiopians have access to legal copies of the old Ethiopian recordings. Alemayehu Eshete, Muluken Mellese, Getachew Kassa and other of the artist that have become globally renowned through the Ethiopiques series are simply not legally accessible for the majority of Ethiopians.

Kidus is hoping this will change. He spends lots of time nagging the distributors to re-distribute their old releases, trying to convince them that these records will sell again. The problem is often that the covers are out of print and to make it profitable for distributors they would need to reprint at least 1-2000 covers. But his mission of making Ethiopian music available for both the foreign and the Ethiopian music audience does not stop here. He will soon be releasing a recording of Amharic wedding music from 1973 on both cassette AND vinyl. At the same time he dreams of expanding the geographical focus of his work by collecting, sustaining and distributing old Eritrean, Somali and Sudanese music.

Aster Aweke & Wubishet Fisseha

The Regionalization of Ethiopian music

While music from the rest of Africa has a strong appeal to Kidus, there is and will probably never be something quite like the tunes of Ethiopia for him. After spending part of his childhood in Ethiopia, he returned to Addis briefly as a teenager. The past few years he has spent travelling back and forth between Norway and Ethiopia, between studies, work and cassette hunting. He now spends most of his time in Ethiopia and is fluent in Amharic, the official Ethiopian language. His fascination of Ethiopian music has several roots, as he describes: “The Ethiopians really value their music and even today Ethiopian music is closely linked to the cultural traditions of the country. In addition, the great variation in the music of Ethiopia’s different regions really appeals to me.”

The vast regional difference in Ethiopian musical tradition is something that also poses a challenge to his ethno-musical investigations. The best music of Tigray or Oromiya is not found in Addis but in the music shops in provincial Ethiopia. Kidus highlights the Tzeta music shop in Dessie and the Negarit shop in Dire Dawa as the best music shops outside and the places to find respectively old Tigray, Amhara and Oromo music. He further explains the initial reception of the old music shop owners when a young pale Scandinavian walks into their domain and asks for cassettes with old – and for many Ethiopian also forgotten – artists: “At first they are quite suspicious. But quickly suspicion turns into excitement and appreciation. Mutual appreciation of and gratitude for a joint effort to preserve an important heritage.” 

The Faranji Connoisseur

Many of these grand old men of Ethiopian music – collectors, producers and music shop owners – have since become close friends of Kidus. And Kidus himself has become a renowned connoisseur of Ethiopian music. The go-to-guy for advice and expertise on the music and the music scene of Ethiopia. A position very few faranjis (meaning foreigners in Amharic) can credibly claim. And not an easy position to achieve taking into consideration the relative isolation of Ethiopia and its music during the past century. Nevertheless, Kidus still sees himself as a foreigner in Ethiopia and its music industry and he is aware of the challenges that this poses to him.

Although the emphasis in Kidus’ efforts has mainly on the Ethiopian artists of the past, he has also witnessed on first-hand the changes in the contemporary music scene in Addis (link to Jazzamba article). Changes of both the encouraging and less positive kind. The revival of Ethiojazz has led to an explosion of live music in Addis the last few years: “All clubs want their own band now and there is a lot of talent out there, which is good. Unfortunately, many of the new bands are afraid of experimenting. This is also the case for many of the European or American bands that have started playing Ethiojazz. Many of them are simply trying to copy the success of Mulatu Astatke.” 

Umar Suleeyman

        There are of course exemptions to this trend and Kidus points to the Nubian Arc as one of the most experimental and forward-looking bands around (see further recommendations from Kidus below).

       Kidus concludes by highlighting a more remarkable effect of the renewed interest in Ethiopian music. According to Kidus the new golden era of Ethiopian music has substantially changed the image of Ethiopia and provided the outside world with a new impression of what Ethiopia is in cultural terms. And Kidus is here to make sure that the insight of foreigners and Ethiopians into the unique musical treasures of Ethiopia will grow and proliferate for years to come.

01 - Aster Aweke & Wubishet Fisseha - Gum Gum (7:11)
02 - Teferra Kassa (3:47)
03 - Frew Hailu (4:15)
04 - Mullumebet Mishel (3:49)
05 - Muhammed Awel (8:24)
06 - Ali Mohammed Birra - Siwaamu Hin Awwaattu (5:09)
07 - Ali Mohammed Birra - Hammalelee Acoustic (5:44)
08 - Aster Aweke - Ante Ledj (8:10)
09 - Umar Suleeyman (5:06)
10 - Ayalew Mesfin (3:20)
11 - Muluken Melese (7:28)
12 - Besrat Hailu & Itiyopia Girma Mariam with 
        Eritrea Police Orchestra - Ashagedaw (4:22)
13 - Ali Shebo (6:32)
14 - Abetew Kebede - Chimchim Gonna (5:23)
15 - Umar Suleeyman - Bilisumma (4:37)
16 - Ali Mohammed Birra - Yaboontuu (5:24)
17 - Halo Dawe - Yashola Leki (5:39)
18 - Umar Alii Faarah - Loshee Intala (5:02)
19 - Omar Souleyman (7:22)
20 - Cut Chemist - Adidas to Addis (2:53)
21 - Cut Chemist - Track 2 (9:26)
22 - Brothers Stereo Jigjiga - Hadagan Nimcooy (6:25)
23 - Umar Alii Faarah - Ajaba Bontuu Oromo (5:14)
24 - Alemayehu Eshete (5:29)
25 - Wollo Lalibela Kinet (3:27)
26 - Osman Sayem aka. EthioJazz - Kelemwa (0:53)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

v.a. - Nahom Favorites, Vol. 36 [2017] [ethiopia]

Michael Lemma Demissew - ደስ ብላኛለች

01 - Girma Tefera — Man Neber (4:55)
02 - Michael Lemma Demissew — Des Blagnalech (3:20)
03 - Abeba Desalegn — Hiywet Ende Shekl (4:38)
04 - Alemayehu Hirbo — Bekum Kafekrshng (5:42)
05 - Bezuayehu Demisse — Che Blew (3:53)
06 - Aster Kebede — Akal Gela (6:31)
07 - Getachew Kassa — Yekereme Fiki (4:07)
08 - Neway Debebe — Yefikir Gedam (4:07)
09 - Kennedy Mengesha — Bemela New (6:10)
10 - Michael Lemma Demissew — Keandu Biet Andu Biet (2:42)
11 - Alemayehu Hirbo — Yefikren Engocha (5:45)
12 - Abeba Desalegn — Beatu Betie Belay (4:47)
13 - Michael Lemma Demissew — Mekeyershin Salawk (2:46)
14 - Alemayehu Hirbo — Nigerenge (4:01)
15 - Kennedy Mengesha — Wub Endachi Yelem (4:21)
16 - Aster Kebede — Ante Amele Tiru (5:32)
17 - Girma Tefera — Tilagne Eko Hedech (3:30)

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Sami Dan - Keras Gar Negeger [2016] [ethiopia]

        Samuel Berhanu popularly known as Sami Dan is a reggae artist. He attended Addis Ababa University where he graduated with a degree in Construction Technology and Management. His music career began while in high school. At the time he played with the Eldan band for five years. He took a break to focus on his education and after he graduated he joined Hasset Acoustic Band and played for three years. With Hasset, he had the opportunity to be part of Sydney Solomon and Imperial Majestic Band and played there for a year.

         In 2014 Sami Dan started his own band, Zewd Acoustic. That year Sami also released a four-song promotional CD. His singles ‘Anchi Yene’ and ‘Shegitu’ got overwhelmingly positive feedback on radio and online. 

         He released his debut album Keras Gar Negeger in 2016.

Sami Dan - Kalesh Anchi [Lyrics] (ካለሽ አንቺ)

        Now with an intention to approach the entertainment world with a unique sound and style, Sami Dan has written all 13 tracks on the new album, songs that address critical social issues in Ethiopia like legislation and work ethics. Keras Gar Negeger (Speaking with oneself) is released by Blue Media PLC, the company better known for organising the Taste of Addis Food Festival and the Addis Beer Fest.

       An energetic live performer, Sami says his new album contains his own deep ideas and life experiences. He believes that artists are leaders in society and therefore need to address issues that affect the society, while also pointing out problems in the society with a view of encouraging positive change. “The ideas and the experiences I have acquired over the years in my career are interpreted in the album. I hope they will help someone learn from my challenges and successes,” he says.

Sami Dan - Man Yamnishal [Lyrics] (ማን ያምንሻል)

        Reggae is the dominant genre on the album but Sami says that as a versatile artist he has also included other genres. He reckons that reggae in Ethiopia is growing, but based on the history of the genre it has not yet attained the status it deserves. He is hopeful that a new crop of artists will take Ethiopian reggae to greater heights, and that his new album will contribute to the growth of reggae in the country.

Sami Dan - 01 - Wede Lay (4:03)
Sami Dan - 02 - Kalsh Anchi (5:00)
Sami Dan - 03 - Dimts Alba Sew (4:58)
Sami Dan - 04 - Yefetari Dirset (5:37)
Sami Dan - 05 - Tefa Yemileyen (5:02)
Sami Dan - 06 - Ewnet (4:53)
Sami Dan - 07 - Zare (4:36)
Sami Dan - 08 - Hoya Hoye (6:35)
Sami Dan - 09 - Fikir Selam (4:47)
Sami Dan - 10 - Man Yamnishal (4:51)
Sami Dan - 11 - Esatu Zemen (4:15)
Sami Dan - 12 - Yene Hayl (4:39)
Sami Dan - 13 - Yagere Lij (4:28)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Henok & Mehari Brothers - 790 [2008 E.C] [2016] [ethiopia]

     The Mehari Brothers started off backing artists like Zeritu Kebede and have also worked with other leading Ethiopian acts, including Teddy Afro, Johnny Ragga and Eyob Mekonnen.

      Before the Mehari Brothers emerged on the Ethiopian scene, singers usually received the most attention at live shows, with bands relegated to a back-up role.

Henok & Mehari Brothers - Yenenesh (Lyrics)

    In 2016 the band released a fifteen track album "790". The bands front-man Henok Mehari was also selected to participate at the Coke Studio Africa in Kenya that same year.

The band members

Henok Mehari on keys and vocals, 
Robel Mehari on guitar, 
Lwam Mehari on bass, 
Halal Mehari on drums, 
Tesfamariam Elias on keys and 
Zelalem Nigatu on drums.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Amaan Nyafaroo - Biyyee Fi Biyyakoo [2017] [ethiopia]

Amaan Nyafaroo - 01 - Onnee Ijoollee Baalee (28:25)
Amaan Nyafaroo - 02 - Biyyi Ofii Haadha (1:15)
Amaan Nyafaroo - 03 - Du'aan Boodas Ta'uu (1:04)
Amaan Nyafaroo - 04 - Biyyee Fi Biyyakoo (40:58)
Amaan Nyafaroo - 05 - Ni Beeka Ni Beekta (1:25)
Amaan Nyafaroo - 06 - Si Boontuu Oromoo (1:24)
Amaan Nyafaroo - 07 - Eebbisaa Addunyaa (6:08)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Colonel Lemma Demissew - 7 songs [ethiopia]

          One of the most successful musicians of the 1970s and 80s Colonel Lemma Demissew has died at the age of 68 on Saturday, August 24th 2009. A pianist, composer, singer and arranger, Lemma was the leading musician of Armed Forces band, a band that has entertained the army and visiting heads of states for decades. Among his appreciative audiences were Fidel Castro of Cuba, Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddafi and the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

        His songs such as “Astawesalehu” “Adrashas Tefabegn” and “Des Balagnalech” are still popular hits. Lemma also maintains reputation for arranging many of Mahmoud Ahmed’s and Alemayehu Eshete anthological vinyl records.

Lemma Demissew - አስታዉሳለሁ ( Astawsalehu )

          Born in Welisso in 1940, Lemma studied high school at Hailemaryam Mamo Secondary High School in Debre Birhan town and at the age of 15 joined the music section of the Armed Forces. There among other things he taught himself to play clarinet. Lemma impressed his superiors with his unique vocal style, demonstrating both outstanding range and the influences of western music. During his time in the Armed Forces, he has taken many musical courses, including a six-year-training in conducting in Soviet Union.

        Lemma has composed a number of official army songs by frequently abandoning the traditional rules and disciplines. He created new harmonies and pioneered new musical forms in which to present his musical ideas. Part of his success was the result of his mastery of the pleasant, tuneful style of piano. The single “Astawesalehu Mech Eresalehu” was his first hit and his talent for melodious, sentimental ballads became his most distinguishing feature. This music remains Lemma signature work and a favorite hit on local radio stations.

          Starting as simple soldier in 1974 he became an army commander and conductor of the roving marshal band. His advancement was rapid. His personal charm and his artistic abilities were partly responsible for his rapid advancement in the army.

       When Lemma resigned in 1993 after the army was disbanded, he was colonel. Even after that, he was much sought as a piano teacher by many, and his long list of students was a roster of the young and the old.

Lemma Demissew - ሰው መሳይ ሾካኮች  (Sew Mesay Shokakoch)

            In May 2009 when the Alliance Ethio-Francise organized the 8th Ethiopian Music Festival has chosen to honor Lemma and Sahle Dagago, another notable arranger and composer who is at present in poor health. Comparing it with Sahel Degago, Francis Falsetto described Lemma’s music as a feverish modernist, deeply inspired by the electric wave born on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

       Getachew Debalqe, a renowned stage personality, described Lemma as a hardworking and diligent musician. Getachew told Addis Journal that he was able visit Lemma two days before his demise. “I was lucky to be able to see him on Thursday. He didn’t say much but was able to utter some words.” Lemma had a stroke few years ago that has left him paralyzed.

            Bahata Gebrehiwot, a musician of Lemma‘s era, said Lemma was a great musician. “He has had a tremendous musical achievement yet remained very modest and reserved.” Bahta remarked though Lemma was able to lead his family autonomously, he hasn’t much of financial fortunes. “Like many other musicians, he hasn’t made much use of his music and hasn’t got the recognition he deserved,” says Bahta.

Lemma Demissew - 01 - Adrashash Tefabegn (2:52)
Lemma Demissew - 02 - Almaz enqu mesay (3:48)
Lemma Demissew - 03 - Astawesalehu (4:05)
Lemma Demissew - 04 - Konjo Lij Ayiche (4:05)
Lemma Demissew - 05 - Kulun Man Kualeshe (6:37)
Lemma Demissew - 06 - Kurtun Negerygn (2:05)
Lemma Demissew - 07 - Lezelalem Nuri (2:30)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Either/Orchestra - Live at Berklee [usa+eth]

Founded in 1985 by saxophonist & composer Russ Gershon, the ten-piece Either/Orchestra, based in Somerville MA, is one of the jazz world's most long-lived and distinguished groups.  Alumni include jazz stars such as John Medeski, Matt Wilson, Miguel Zenon, Jaleel Shaw & Josh Roseman.

The E/O, featuring a six piece horn section, piano, bass, drums and congas, has put its stamp on just about every style of jazz, from big band, swing and bop to Latin jazz, electric and avant-garde.  The last decade or more has found the band absorbing an Afro-Caribbean influence through a succession of Latino members.  

Teshome Mitiku with Either/Orchestra

More unusually, the E/O has become deeply involved with Ethiopian music, touring there and collaborating with many Ethiopian greats of the outstanding 1960's generation.  Mulatu Astatke, Mahmoud Ahmed and Teshome Mitiku are among the band's favorites.  The Ethiopian connection includes the double CD Ethiopíques 20: Live in Addis and the DVD Ethiogroove: Mahmoud Ahmed and Either/Orchestra.

Over the years, the E/O has been recognized with five Boston Music Awards, perennial placement in the Big Band category of the Down Beat International Critics Poll, and leader Gershon was nominated for an arranging Grammy for his composition "Bennie Moten's Weird Nightmare," included in The Calculus of Pleasure.

The E/O began performing original arrangements of Ethiopian songs, inspired by a compilation called Ethiopian Groove: the Golden 70s. In 2000, after three of these songs appeared on the album More Beautiful than Death, Francis Falceto, the producer of Ethiopian Groove, contacted Gershon and eventually arranged an invitation for the E/O to play at the Ethiopian Music Festival in Addis Ababa in 2004. 

Along with Indo-British singer Susheela Raman the same year, the E/O was the first non-Ethiopian artist to appear in the festival, and was the first US big band to appear in Ethiopia since Duke Ellington's in 1973. Their concert at the festival was recorded and ultimately appeared in Falceto's Ethiopiques series on the French Buda Musique label. Five Ethiopian guests appear on the recording: Mulatu Astatke, Getatchew Mekurya, Tsedenia Markos, Bahta Hewet and Michael Belayneh. This tour and recording have led to an ongoing collaboration with Astatke, the primary founder of Ethiopian jazz, concerts with Ethiopian expatriates singer Hana Shenkute, krar player Minale Dagnew, masinko player Setegn Atanaw, and the great Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed with whom E/O released a DVD in 2007. 

Mahmoud Ahmed and fellow legendary Ethiopian singer Alemayehu Eshete played Lincoln Center Out of Doors in 2008 backed by E/O. The group debuted a collaboration with vocalist Teshome Mitiku in the summer of 2010, including a headlining appearance at the Chicago Jazz Festival.

Either Orchestra - 01 - Introduction (3:03)
Either Orchestra - 02 - Tigrigna,Oromigna,Guragigna (14:06)
Either Orchestra - 03 - Arehibi (9:34)
Either Orchestra - 04 - Ethiopia (5:20)
Either Orchestra - 05 - Yamnaw Bedele (6:55)
Either Orchestra - 06 - Yeqir Beqa (6:07)

guests :

Minnale Danew - krar
Setegn Atanaw - masinko
Hana Shenkute - vocal

Friday, November 24, 2017

Nega Addisu - Ambassel Tewesta Instrumental Vol 6 [2017] [ethiopia]


Nega Addisu - 01 - Guramayle (6:37)
Nega Addisu - 02 - Esele (7:31)
Nega Addisu - 03 - Selamu (4:15)
Nega Addisu - 04 - Gumaye (6:39)
Nega Addisu - 05 - Mejemeriya Fikri (4:58)
Nega Addisu - 06 - Segemeye (5:47)
Nega Addisu - 07 - Leminey (6:38)
Nega Addisu - 08 - Meley (7:31)
Nega Addisu - 09 - Saba Sabina (6:00)
Nega Addisu - 10 - Bekutaki (5:44)
Nega Addisu - 11 - Keren Tse'ada (5:47)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Damakase - Gunfan Yellem! [2016] [ethiopia]

       Endris Hassen (The Ex, Ethiocolor, Imperial Tiger Orchestra, Nile Project, MistO-MistO etc) and Cory Seznec (Groanbox, Seznec Bros, solo, MistO-MistO, etc) joined forces in late 2014 to fuse sounds from east and west Africa. Hungry for a fuller sound, they brought in Misale Legesse (Ethiocolor, Addis Acoustic Project, etc) on kebero and Cass Horsfall on bass (Black Jesus Experience, Jazmaris, etc) to flesh things out and create Damakase, a name which comes from a plant used in traditional medicine in Ethiopia to heal "gunfan" (cold/flu) and other ailments. 
       By late 2015 they had enough songs for an album, and asked Kenny Allen to come in as producer. 

       Gunfan Yellem! (translated roughly as Fever No More!) is an album recorded live in Cory's Glasshouse Studios. 

      Guest artists were invited to add a little spice here and there, and Kenny fine tuned and tweaked the mix to perfection. 

      The music is comprised of 6 originals and two covers (Wuba by the Eritrean composer Tewelde Redda, and Mother's Love by the Ethiopian pianist Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou).

Damakase - Tizita Gourd

Damakase - 01 - Wuba (4:09)
Damakase - 02 - Tizita Gourd (4:20)
Damakase - 03 - Wassorai Asho Mada (4:21)
Damakase - 04 - Mother's Love (4:27)
Damakase - 05 - Batten Down the Hatches (4:01)
Damakase - 06 - Southern Bound (5:18)
Damakase - 07 - Tizu Konjo Wusha (3:16)
Damakase - 08 - Damakase (3:29)

Damakase is: 

Cass Horsfall - bass, vocals 
Cory Seznec - guitars, ngoni, banjos, vocals 
Endris Hassen - masenqo, vocals 
Misale Legesse - kebero, percussion, vocals 


Kaethe Hostetter - violin 
Mesele Asmamaw - krar 
Mesfin "Baby" Shiferaw - vocals 
Ralf Werner - cello 
Yann Seznec - piano, pump organ