I just wanted to squeak in here between Boss' interim post and Martin's upcoming post to throw up a response of sorts to Boss' awesome Budos Band tracks. I figure that most, if not all, of you are familiar with Mulatu Astatke but on the off chance that some folks have missed I'll provide a taste.
I feel that the Budos Band has taken a lot of their sounds and even some of their lines straight from Mulatu, not that I think this is at all a bad thing. There should be more of this stuff around but there isn't that much. Mulatu Astatke is an Ethiopian bandleader and composer operating in a pretty unique afro-groove-jazz with a lot of snaky, minor key horns and psychy electric piano.
Check out Yekatit
This selection comes from the excellent Ethiopiques series, an expansive series of compilations focusing on Ethiopian music. Very few of these titles are available on vinyl but selections from this album have been released on a French vinyl pressing as "Ethio Jazz" with the cover image shown below. It is a fantastic comp and I highly recommend it. He also has put a couple of records out in the last few years that I have not yet checked out. Maybe someone else can comment on those.
For an additional Ethiopian treat I present one of Mulatu's biggest influences and probably the real founding father of modern Ethiopian music, Getatchew Mekurya. From what I understand he exerted an overwhelming and formative influence on the Ethiopian music scene in the mid 20th century as a pioneering and unique sax player, a composer and especially for his updating of traditional Ethiopian tunes in a more jazz-inflected mode. He has also recently recorded an album with the great Dutch punk band, The Ex.
Check Getatchew Mekurya's arrangement of this traditional Ethiopian song, Almaz Yeharerwa
This track is also from the Ethiopiques series. From the comp highlighting Mr. Mekurya.