Samuel Yirga; Guzo (Real World/Southbound)

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Samuel Yirga: Abet Abet
Samuel Yirga; Guzo (Real World/Southbound)

With the Ethiopiques reissue series, the rediscovery of Mulatu Astatke, groups like Dub Colossus and Syriana, and singer Mahmoud Ahmed, the music of Ethipia has certainly garnered attention in recent years.

This album by a gifted young and classically trained Ethiopian pianist/composer has more than enough rhythmic and melodic elements from his homeland to place in under world music, although I suspect most would be more likely to filed it under “jazz” because of the amount of cool-school improviation here.

Yirga also knows his way around funk and soul, the angular style of Thelonious Monk (Dance with the Legend) and has been a member of the Ethiopian-fusion group Dub Colossus. So here are bouyant horn-lead tunes (Abet Abet, Firma Ena Wereket) and passages of introspection (Ye Bati Koyita) alongside the vocal tracks.

When he brings in vigorous African percussion (kebero drum), the Creole Choir of Cuba and a traditional fiddle (the single-stringed messenqo), this diverse album connects across musical and geographic boundaries.

But because of that diversity – and perhaps by having parts recorded in Addis Ababa and England – this does feel lacking in coherence at times, tryng to be al things to many different parts of his abilities perhaps.

So despite being here under world music, it will mostly appeal to those who might have expected to be looking under our jazz pages.

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