Tuesday, 14 July, 2009

Ethio Stars & Tukul Band - Amharic Hits and Experimental Traditions from Ethiopia (1994)

Ethiopian popular music is in its very nature multi-national. In addition to strong Ethiopian traditional songs, other elements derive from various currents of popular music - from soul and jazz to Italian hits and Islamic vocal styles. The result is a completely original kind of contemporary Ethiopian popular music. It could be described as "Arabic soul singer plays Amharic-Italian funky jazz."
The origin of popular music in Ethiopia can be traced back to the 1920's when Haile Selassie brought over a group of Armenian orphans from Jerusalem and so formed The Bodyguard Orchestra. They brought new instruments with them, like trumpet and saxophone, and from this and other military bands a night-club scene began to emerge. In 1935, Ethiopia was invaded and though this lasted only a few years Italians stayed and formed some dance bands.
Regardless of the effect outside influences, such as American rock have had on musicians, Ethiopian popular music is still very strongly based on both sacred and secular traditions from different parts of the country. Perhaps more relevant than the question of how western music has affected Ethiopian, is how Ethiopian music might one day influence western popular music...
The Ethio Stars' best known album, Amhartic Hit, was split with The Tukul Band.


Ethio Stars:

Shimeles Beyene, the leader of the Ethio Stars tells: "We chose the name Ethio Stars because we were the best musicians. We formed the group in 1981... ";"We are running our group by ourselves. Privately, you see. We buy our own instruments. We practice every day. If we don't play well we don't live. What I mean is, we cannot continue like we play in Ghion Hotel if we don't improve our talent all the time. So we practise more and attract more people." ...
"Day by day our music is changing. Before it was soul music. Now sometimes rock. It changes, you see. Before it was more acoustic, now electronic instruments are very important." "We call it Ahmaric music because of the language. How does it sound? as you can hear, it sounds good! Mostly we have four pentatonic scales: tizita, anchi-hoye, ambasel and bati. We compose depending on them. The most usual rhythm we play is chikchika. It's the same like in the Eshet Eshet, the song sung by Getatchew. You can write the beat in 3/4, but if you make it fast it becomes the beat of chikchika"...
The Ethio Stars continue to play their infectuous dance music in the hotel clubs of their homeland. Led by saxophone player Shimeles Beyerie, The Ethio Stars have recorded prolifically with their cassettes selling well in Ethiopian music stores. Most of the Amharic songs tell about love. In Amharic you call it fikir.

Ethio Stars are:

Getachew Kassa: Vocal
Girma Chipsa: Vocal
Shimeles Beyene: Trumpet
Girma Woldemichael: Trombone
Bibisha teferi: Guitar
Abiyou Solomon: Bass
Dawit Senbetta: Keyboards
Samson Mohammed: Drums
Mulatu Astatke: Drum Machine

TRACKS: [1-6]


Tukul Band:

Tukul Band plays traditional Ethiopian music in a modem experimental way. Musical director Mulatu Astatke is a well known figure in the modernization of Ethiopian music and improving traditional instruments.
The Krar is a six string bowl-Iyre. Tukul Band uses its modem forms: electric lead krar and bass krar. Krar is nicknamed the devil's instrument (yeseyTan mesaria). According to the legend: God himself made the begena and gave it to Dawit. "Use this instrument to adorn and praise My name", God said. The scheming devil, envious and green-eyed, made the krar in distorted imitation. "Play it and adore all the worldly pleasures", said the devil to mano (Ashenafi Kebede, Krar: The Devil's Instrument. Ethnomusicology Vol.xXI Nr. 3.)
The Masinko is the only Ethiopian bowed instrument, a 1-string fiddle. It is the typical instrument of an azmari, or entertaining bard ("griot"/ "troubadour"). Getamasay Abebe from Tukul Band plays an electrically amplified masinko. The Washint is a bamboo flute, usually with four finger holes. Ethiopian drums used in this recording are hollow-bodied with skins at both ends. Adungna Chekel plays three upright drums with sticks and chimes.

Tukul Band are:
Yohannes Afework: Washint
Kut Ojulu: Bass Karr
Birhane Haile Maryam: Lead Krar
Getamasay Abebe: Masinko
Adungna Chekel: Ethiopian Drums, Chimes
Mulatu Astatke: Arrangements; Musical Director

TRACKS [7-11]

Text taken from CD booklet
Published by Piranha Music, 1994

1 - Tiz Balegn Gize - 5:20
2 - Eshet Eshet - 7:01
3 - Yetentu Tez Alew - 5:10
4 - Kermosew - 3:30
5 - Yekereme Fikir - 5:10
6 - Aderech Arada, Bekfir/Menged Lay Wodike - 4:32
7 - Bugalu - 3:05
8 - Akale Woube - 2:42
9 - Konso Music - 4:33
10 - Sound of Washint & Masinko - 3:38
11 - Wallel Beli - 3:35



TOAST said...


icastico said...

Cool stuff...
An informational note...
Those orphans were Armenian, not American.

bravo juju said...

Dear Icastico

Thanks for the correction. This was another case of cut and paste without proper checking. In fact, just a couple of days ago an eminent researcher who specializes on Ethiopian affairs was telling me about the origin of the Armenian community in Ethiopia, and how they took over many areas of local economical and artistic life.

Thanks again for the attention. Enjoy.

icastico said...

I knew you knew, but I figured you hadn't noticed...

I do find the image of American orphans saved by Ethiopia an interesting one to contemplate...

stefan said...

looks very good - thank u

bravo juju said...

Dear Icastico

As strange as the idea of American orphans saved by an Ethiopian Theocrat might sound (just a bit stranger than the idea of Armenian orphans), I would have blindly accepted it if it weren't for that conversation.

The point for me is that the internet is full of misleading information, and it's not the first time that wrong data is included in these Juju posts. It's not such a big problem, of course, in the case of Juju - where most people, I guess, don't even read the text and go straight to the download link. But the total absence of information filtering on the web, and the ease with which all sorts of bullshit can be vindicated by the simple fact that they have been published on the internet, should be an issue of concern. Someday all Armenian orphans will become American.

So, again, thanks for the correction and for your scrupulous attention.

D said...

great share jardim!

n2j3 said...

thanks , great stuff. I took the liberty of adding the photos to last.fm , hope you don't mind

Stylo350s said...

Many Thanks.

Andrea said...

This is a great record! Many thanks!

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