Jazz Is Dead: Mulatu Astatke

Jazz Is Dead: Mulatu Astatke

Meklit, Juan G, Co-presented by KALW Music

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Doors: 7:00pm • Show: 8:00pm

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General Admission Standing Room with Limited Seating

Mulatu Astatke (born 1943) is an Ethiopian musician and arranger best known as the father of Ethio-jazz. Born in the westernEthiopian city of Jimma, Mulatu trained in London, New York City, and Boston where he combined his jazz and Latin music interestswith traditional Ethiopian music and became the first African student to enroll at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music fromwhere he received an honourary degree in 2012. Astatke led his band while playing vibraphone and conga drums—instruments thathe introduced into Ethiopian popular music— other percussion instruments, keyboards and organ. His albums focus primarily oninstrumental music, and Astatke appears on all three known albums of instrumentals that were released during Ethiopia’s Golden’70s. He collaborated with many notable artists in bothcountries, arranging and playing on recordings by MahmoudAhmed, and appearing as a special guest with Duke Ellingtonduring a tour of Ethiopia in 1973. His Western audienceexpanded even further when the 2005 Jim Jarmusch filmBroken Flowers featured seven of Astatke’s songs. Hip hopartists have also sampled Astatke’s songs extensively, forexample in the works of Nas, Damian Marley, Kanye West,Cut Chemist, and Knaan. He toured with US band Either/Orchestra in 2006 and in 2008 recorded an album with theHeliocentrics and completed a Radcliffe Institute Fellowshipat Harvard University, where he worked on modernizationsof traditional Ethiopian instruments and premiered a portionof a new opera, The Yared Opera.