This is the first official reissue of an album Mulatu Astatke recorded in New York in 1972. The Ethiopian jazz master had been studying in Boston after leaving the UK, but moving to New York exposed him to a live circuit with a huge range of jazz and other styles. Astatke laps all of this up in an album that gives a great introduction to his sound, and can be enthusiastically recommended to those who aren’t so sure about dipping their toes entirely into the jazz world. This is music of great optimism, brightness and instinctive invention, with a lovely rasp to the saxophones on the title track, which has a winning sense of mischief, and a lovely cool vibe sound that complements the shrill trumpet on ‘Dewel’. The rhythms sway insistently, thanks to the input of New York jazz and Latin session players, while the melodic material is consistently strong and interesting. By turns soulful and funky but always upward looking, ‘Mulatu Of Ethiopia’ is a wonderful and timeless piece of work that commands you to throw open the windows on a hot summer day. Resistance is futile!
Ben Hogwood
5 out of 5