The series Éthiopiques, produced for Buda Musique, an indy label based in Paris, has just produced its 28th CD, devoted to the late 70s Oromo music of Ali Mohammed Birra (Oromo is the largest Ethiopian community outside of Addis. The Oromo Ethiopian have their own language, different than the Amharas of the capital, who speak Amharic).
Éthiopiques features a lot of pre-synthesizer music, which is always good. An earlier album, volume 4, featured the great Mulatu Astatke and was used by director Jim Jarmusch in his film Broken Flowers. While much of the music in the already encyclopedia 28-CD series, isn’t really jazz as we know it, it’s nevertheless sounds more like jazz than pop. With a little bit of Memphis Stax-Volt soul shout thrown in. There is an urgency in the music, and no matter how far out or exotic it gets, it is always soulful, tasty, and full of heart.
While most of the volumes cover the years of the 1970s, a recent 2-CD set, volume 27, covers the very first recordings of Ethiopian music, recorded over 100 years ago in what was then known as Abyssinia.
Volumes 4 and 26 feature two of the biggest stars of the 1970s, singer Mahmoud Ahmed (rec. 1972-4) and the instrumentalist Mulatu Astatkqé (rec. 1969-74).
The most recent cd features singer Ali Mohammed Birra, playing what is known as Oromo music, is more approachable than some of the stranger sounding volumes.
1. Ali Mohammed Birra — Infedhani Ethiopiques (Vol 28 Buda Musique)
2. Alemayehui Eshete — Temeles Ethiopiques (Vol 3 Buda Musique)
3. Seyoum Gebreyes & Alim-Girma Band — Hametegnaw Ethiopiques (Vol 24 Buda Musique)
4. Frew Haylou — Almaz Men Eda New Ethopiques (Vol 25 Buda Musique)
5. Tezeta — Song Title In Amharic Only Ethiopiques (Vol. 26 Buda Musique)
6. Asmarina — Song Title In Amharic Only Ethopiques (Vol. 4 Buda Musique)
7. Ali Mohammed Birra — Eshurruru Ethiopiques (Vol 28 Buda Musique)
Various (Tom's Pick for Rhythm Planet Angel Club)