Alemayehu Eshete is an Ethiopian Ethio-jazz singer active since the 1960s who primarily sings in Amharic. Eshete's talent was recognized by colonel Rètta Dèmèqè who invited the young singer to perform with Addis Ababa's famous Police Orchestra. Eshete had his first hit ("Seul") in 1961 before moving on to found the orchestra Alèm-Girma Band with Girma Bèyènè. Over the course of 15 years, Eshete released some 30 singles until the arrival of the communist Derg junta, which forced Eshete and many other artists into exile.
Alemayehu Eshete has since gained fame in Europe and the Americas with the release of Buda Musique's Ethiopiques series of compilations on compact disc. Ethiopiques Volume 9 is devoted entirely to recordings of Eshete's earlier music, and Volume 22 covers his career between 1972 and 1974. Other songs have also appeared on Volumes 3, 8, 10, and 13 or the series. In 2008 Eshete toured the United States with fellow Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed, backed by Boston's 10-piece Either/Orchestra. -wikiwiki
01. Addis Abeba Bete 02. Yeweyn Haregitu 03. Qondjit 04. Yelben Betayiw 05. Yesew Bet Yesew New 06. Mekeyershin Salawq 07. Qotchegn Messassate 08. Eruq Yaleshew 09. Shegitu Mare 10. Yeweb Dar 11. Telantena Zare 12. Memar Memeramer 13. Tedesteshal Wey? 14. Denyew Deneba 15. Temhert Bete 16. Nefas Indaygeban 17. Leb Tatefaletch 18. Feqer Feqer New 19. Gizew Honeshenna 20. Heywete Abatey New 21. Ya Tara 22. Timarkyalesh
With ties--most of them clearly nonbinding--to the sanctioned musical institutions of Ethiopia in the 1960s (police bands and the like), the singers and players on the Ethiopiques series of reissues were in a funky bind. They had pledged some allegiance to Emperor Haile Selassie I and his imperial declarations, but their muses picked up distant signals from North America, including jazz's horn charts, funk's on-the-one rhythms, and an overriding sense of urgency in music made by youth. Here's volume 8 of the Ethiopiques series, testimony in 70-plus minutes to the winning power of the youth culture's music. With the series' most unabashed nod to James Brown in Alèmayèhu Eshèté's six tracks, volume 8 goes further than its predecessors in documenting a jazzy, soulful, electric-keyboard-fueled scene that simply ignores conventional musical borders. Eshèté's vocals bark and then soar over the webbed rhythms with all the force of Brown's--and an additionally rich range of guitars and keyboards that race around and through each other like polyrhythmic drums. What volume 8 shows is that the impact of soul, jazz, and funk (try Lèmma Dèmissew on for size) provided so much quiltwork to be syncopated together in these hip, danceable tunes. Listening to Samuel Bèlay's band kick the horns over an artfully hanging-back rhythmic tide, it's hard to imagine that a musical culture this rich could be stymied by the late 1970s--just a few years after Selassie's regime was crushed. --Andrew Bartlett
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