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Mulatu Astatke and the Heliocentrics | Inspiration Information 3

Strut  (2009)
By GUSTAVO TURNER  |  April 28, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars


The idea behind the Strut label's Inspiration Information series is simple: pair "modern artists and producers with their musical heroes" and lock them in a studio for five days or less to play off each other. Following two Jamaican-flavored installments (Amp Fiddler/Sly & Robbie and Horace Andy/Ashley Beedle), this third volume combines the talents of UK soul-jazz collective the Heliocentrics with the one and only Mulatu Astatke.

An ultra-sophisticated composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist from Ethiopia who spent time in New York when jazz giants roamed the streets, Mulatu brought back to Africa the spirit of Horace Silver, Coltrane, Miles, and Ayler through a series of initially obscure albums. A few years ago, the fourth volume of the excellent Éthiopiques series rescued him from the world-music ghetto and made his work indispensable for the most discerning musicians, producers, and fans.

Among these younger acolytes, British drummer Malcolm Catto (a veteran of DJ Shadow's touring band and Madlib's samples) and his Heliocentrics have managed to create a suitable modern aural bed for Mulatu compositions new and old. Rather than a marriage of distinct cultures, the result is a potent blend of shared genealogies of cool — music that would be equally at home in a down-tempo lounge, at a boutique hotel, or on the PA at a progressive hip-hop festival.
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  Topics: CD Reviews , Mulatu Astatke, Mulatu Astatke, Ethiopia,  More more >
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