Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument - Shemonmuanaye 2xLP
Label: Awesome Tapes From Africa
Among Ethiopian Jazz aficionados, Hailu Mergia may not have as big of a name as Mulutu Astatke or Mahmoud Ahmed, but this 1985 recording of traditional Ethiopian jazz pieces played on analog synth, piano and accordion could have easily been part of the great Ethiopiques series. Mergia cut his teeth with The Walliaa Band, the legendary group founded by Mulatu Astake, and has backed many of Ethiopia's greatest bandleaders (the band still performs to this day at the Addis Ababa Hilton). But it's this solo excursion, played in true one-man-band style that takes the sensual loping rhythms of Ethio-jazz into realms so warm and personal and utterly unique. Recommended!