Born in the western Ethiopian city of Jimma, Mulatu Astatke trained in London, New York City, and Boston where he became the first African student to enroll at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, from where he received an honorary degree in 2012.
Astatke led his band while playing vibraphone and conga drums—instruments that he introduced to Ethiopian popular music— alongside other percussion instruments, keyboards and organ. He collaborated with many notable artists in both Ethiopia and the US, arranging and playing on recordings by Mahmoud Ahmed, and appearing as a special guest with Duke Ellington during a tour of Ethiopia in 1973.
Mulatu Astatke bears witness to an extraordinarily rich career that has him hailed as the father of Ethio-jazz. From his musical studies at Trinity College and Berklee, groundbreaking recordings for the legendary Amha label in Addis Abeba’s golden age, to his contribution to a Jim Jarmush film, his adoption by the musical youth of Europe and the States, and sampling by hip hop royalty, Astatke has a unique musical history.
His new album, Sketches of Ethiopia, is an homage to the rhythms and dances of Mulatu Astatke’s homeland that still provide the engine for his music. It’s also evidence that the grand old man of Ethio-jazz is not standing still.
Join us for a magnificent Monday night at Cosmopolite!
Mulatu Astatke (vibraphone, wurlitzer, percussion), James Arben (MD, saxophone, flute), Byron Wallen (trumpet), Danny Keane (cello), Alexander Hawkins (piano, keyboard), John Edwards (bass), Richard Olatunde Baker (percussion), Jon Scott (drums)
Concert starts 20:00