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Mulatu Astatke

Vibraphone and keyboard player, master arranger and bandleader, Mulatu Astatke is one of the all-time greats of Ethiopian music and the creator of his own original music form, Ethio jazz. Mulatu is a true pioneer of African music. He was the first Ethiopian musician of his generation to travel extensively and to record abroad – he studied in the UK in Wales and at Trinity College Of Music in London, cutting his teeth on the buoyant London jazz scene of the early ‘60s. He became the first African student to attend Harvard and he lived and recorded in New York, developing a unique sound that fused Western jazz with traditional Ethiopian melodies. As Mulatu says, “it took a long time to get the balance, to let the colours and the feelings of the Ethiopian modes shine through.” Returning to ‘Swinging Addis’ during the late ’60s, things had changed immeasurably since he had left and his return coincided with a musical boom that had been allowed to mature under the previously far stricter dictatorship of the Emperor Haile Selassie.

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