Mulatu Astatke to Release His New Album


Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke, often referred to as the father of Ethio-jazz, may be in his 70s, but he shows no signs of slowing down.

Ethiopian jazz legend Mulatu Astatke is touring Australasia. Photo:
Ethiopian jazz legend Mulatu Astatke is touring Australasia. Photo:
The revered musician is set to showcase his latest work in Australia and New Zealand this month alongside Australian-based band Black Jesus Experience. The tour will see performances in the cities of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Wellington between 4 and 10 June.

Mulatu’s Australasian dates will be the premiere of Cradle of Humanity, a seven-track album compilation on which Mulatu collaborates with Melbourne-based collective Black Jesus Experience (who performed in Swaziland at the 2015 edition of Bushfire). Drawing inspiration from the roots of Astatke’s Ethio-Jazz repertoire, reimagined through new forms and compositions, Cradle of Humanity reflects the eclectic, exploratory nature of the Black Jesus Experience and Astatke’s unmistakable sound. Collaboration in its truest form, the new album is the product of seven years of performances together around the world, brought to fruition in studios in Addis Ababa, Melbourne, London and Cologne in Germany. Mulatu himself has reportedly referred to the Black Jesus Experience as “my favourite backing band”.

A meditation on the origins of humanity, rhythm and culture, the new album combines the mystic tonalities of Ethiopia’s ancient and unique scales with deep grooves. Songs on the album include re-interpretations of iconic Mulatu releases such as ‘Sabye’, ‘Netsanet’, and ‘Yekatit’, as well as the Ethiopian classic ‘Wubit’. The inspirations for Mulatu’s original works – love, freedom, revolution and culture – are recast and reinterpreted by Black Jesus Experience’s Amharic songstress Enushu Taye, Zimbabwean-born lyricist Liam ‘Mr Monk’ Monkhouse and freestyler Tibor Bacskai. The album also features original compositions by Australian composer Peter Harper. Cradle Of Humanity showcases Mulatu’s vibraphone playing at its most expansive, as well as his unique approach to African percussion.

Confirmed dates on the upcoming tour are as follows:

  • Saturday 4 June: Brisbane International Jazz Festival at the Queensland Multicultural Centre in Brisbane, Australia
  • Sunday 5 June: The Basement in Sydney, Australia
  • Tuesday 7 June: Northside Records in Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia
  • Wednesday 8 June: Melbourne Jazz Festival at the Merlyn Theatre in the Coopers Malthouse complex in Melbourne, Australia
  • Friday 10 June: Wellington Jazz Festival at the Opera House in Wellington, New Zealand.