When Ethiopia’s Walias Band toured North America in 1981, most of the group jumped ship, eager to escape the “Red Terror” that ruled their homeland. Among them was keyboardist Hailu Mergia, who joined the Ethiopian expat population in Washington DC as a taxi driver, a job he still maintains between gigs. With the rediscovery of Addis Ababa’s 1970s “golden age”, for which the soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch’s 2005 film Broken Flowers proved a major catalyst, musicians like Mergia and Mulatu Astatke have rebuilt their careers. Lala Belu is the former’s first album in 15 years, and proves worth the wait. At one level it’s the record of a traditional jazz trio, with drummer Tony Buck and bassist Mike Majkowski backing Mergia’s keyboards, and at times Mergia’s swirling Hammond organ shows his debt to the jazz-funk of Jimmy Smith. Yet Mergia’s approach is often unorthodox. His melodies, snaking up and down the pentatonic scales of Ethio-jazz, are hypnotic and mysterious. His keyboards pit organ against electric piano, and switch to an accordion that shifts between the woozy opener Tizita, to the shrillness of Addis Nat, which arrives in a blitz of hard drumming. Exuberant or contemplative – the closing Yefikir Engurguro… Read full this story
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Hailu Mergia: Lala Belu review – a thrilling ride have 286 words, post on www.theguardian.com at February 18, 2018. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.