A Master of Ethiopian Jazz

Feb 14, 2020

There is no sound on Earth quite like the music of Mulatu Astatke. Though Ethiopia is his home, every six years or so a new group of music listeners in the United States discovers his signature sound—based on a five-tone pentatonic scale, with all sorts of wonderful melodies and tonality swirling around. In 1972, Astatke toured extensively with Duke Ellington. And 15 years ago, the film director Jim Jarmusch used Astatke’s songs to great effect in the movie Broken Flowers, prompting a revival of interest in his music. Luckily for us, at 76 years old, Astatke is still touring, conducting and playing behind the vibraphones. Mulatu Astatke brings his group to town for two nights, Feb. 28 and 29, at the UC Theatre in Berkeley. Details here.—Gabe Meline

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