Last night I came across some YouTube videos of Mulatu Astatqe, the “father of Ethio-Jazz” (also spelled Astatke). What I didn’t know that he was affiliated with the MIT Media Lab and doing a lot of work with re-creating modern versions of traditional Ethiopian instruments.
If you’ve seen Jim Jarmusch’s “Broken Flowers” you’ve heard Astatqe’s music. He’s also featured in the Ethiopiques series of CDs that is an excellent overview of Ethiopian music. Here is an interview with him that is focusing on his work with the Heliocentrics:
The artwork at the end of the clip is by another well known Ethiopian cultural producer, Wosene Kosrof who is equally fascinating for the manner in which he plays with the concept of “African Art”. For another sample of his music try “Tezeta” (nostalgia in Amharic) on NPR