Guzo is the debut release of young Ethiopian pianist Samuel Yirga. Against the odds, Samuel found his way to music school in Addis Ababa and despite still being in his 20s and only having left music school relatively recently, he has developed at a pace remarkable for someone of his age. He has gone on to become one of Ethiopia's most promising young musicians and composers and in recent years, Samuel has gained wider international recognition through his touring and recording with Ethio-fusion group Dub Colossus.
The title, Guzo, means "journey" in Amharic, the official working language of Ethiopia. Recorded partly in Addis Ababa and partly in the UK at Real World Studios, it is the product of his years experimenting with the music of his roots and the outside influences of American jazz (particularly Keith Jarrett and Herbie Hancock), Latin, and classical music. It explores the traditional musical history of Ethiopia, the more modern Ethiojazz that has brought his country's music to international attention, ventures into big-band brass ensembles, moves through soul and funk, and then simmers with the deeply impassioned solo piano tracks. Whilst the solo piano pieces are introspective and deeply felt, Samuel has enlisted some great singers and instrumentalists from Ethiopia, Europe and the Caribbean. Featured vocalists are the Creole Choir of Cuba, a Cuban choir whose songs go back to their Haitian roots; Mel Gara, a British singer whose origins are in Iraq; and Nicolette, a Nigerian-British singer, famous for her collaborations with Massive Attack.
While Sammy has been influenced by American jazz and funk, he also wanted to record some tunes which showed the great range of traditional music in Ethiopia. On these tracks, which he recorded in Addis Ababa, he was joined by some of the country's best young traditional instrumentalists.
"His world is opening up," says Dubulah (aka Nick Page), the British musician and produce....... więcej