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Moa Anbessa [VINYL]

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Amazing cross-over album - punk/world? 4 Sep 2009
By Benjamin Reid - Published on
It is an absolute crime this album isn't more available. It's absolutely incredible!

Background: The Ex heard Getachew on a re-issue disc of Ethiopian music and loved his sound. So for their 25th anniversary concert, they contacted him to see if he would participate. Getachew, though in his 70's agreed without hesitation to come from Ethiopia to Holland. From there, the collaboration resulted in this album which is a mix of studio and live tracks.

I saw this group at Lincoln Center Outdoors in NYC and it was a very mixed crowd. There were obviously people from two distinct camps - those that love Ethiopian and "world" (as stupid as that term is) music and those that hail from a punk/alternative camp. But when the group played, everyone responded immediately in their own way. For good reason - it's a surprisingly successful blend of styles.

Most of the melodies are Getachew's with some help from The Ex. But The Ex (with guests) bring a VERY European punk/avant-jazz sensibility to the table and prove themselves equals in the bargain. The melodies are at once stomping, blusterly, joyous, wistful, searching, and triumphant. They are buoyed by a group that is clearly inspired and respectful of working with such a legend. You get the sense that no one wants to own the spotlight and that the song is real master. Every song has such a rollicking, propulsive feel to it, they are incredibly memorable.

I feel lucky to have seen them live. We are all lucky to have this record of their incredible collaboration.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The Negus of Ethiopian Sax 29 Feb 2012
By Andreas C G - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am actually reviewing two recordings by Getachew Mekurya:

Ethiopiques 14
Moa Anbessa (IMPORT)

How is it that there are only 2 CD's currently available from this wonderful artist? We can be grateful to Buda Records for bringing artist like Getachew Mekurya and Mulatu Atstatke to our attention. Unlike Mulatu, however, Mekuryah has gotten much less exposure. It's only because Dutch punk/industrial band The Ex sought him out that he ever got to record and tour in the west. A friend of mine saw him in New York City and said he was awesome.

The Ethiopiques CD features recording Mekurya made in the late 60's/early 70's, during a period that was a sort of cultural Renaissance for Ehtiopia, which was brought to a harsh end with the rise of Mengistu's Stalinist regime. Much of the Ethiopiques series dates to this period. Unlike Mulatu Atstakte, who even played with Duke Ellington on at least one occasion, and refers to his music as "Ethio-jazz", Mekurya has stated that his music was not influenced by American jazz, and that he was not even aware of John Coltrane or Ornette Coleman at the time, despite comparisons. What you have here is a style developed completely autonomously. Many of the tracks are in fact based on traditional songs. As with much of the series, the recording technology is rather primitive, but the performances are spectacular. What these guys are able to do with limited resources is impressive. One song, "Shellela" is featured twice with completely different arrangements. the first is sax with electric organ, guitar and trumpet laying down a wonderful groove. the second sounds like a live performance with Mekurya in a call and response with a chorus of horns (not sure if they are all saxes or not). Both are highlights, although really all tracks ate good. I've listened to all kinds of music, but this stuff is truly unique. This CD is highly recommended.

the other CD featuring Getachew Mekurya is the album "Moa Anbessa", recorded with the Dutch band, The Ex in 2006. The Ex heard the Ethiopiques recording and went to Addis Ababa to seek Mekurya out and found him playing in hotel lounges. They brought him back to Europe to record, and then did a series of concerts in some European and North American cities. The sound of the album meshes his sound with The Ex's punk/industrial sound, and the fusion works very well. Mekurya's sax playing is anyway edgy and agressive (though lyrical). Many of the tracks on this album are songs featured on the original Ehthiopiques 14. I must say I am not a fan of the vocalist on the album. I don't feel he brings much to the party, but it doesn't keep me from recommending this album.

In the liner notes of "Moa Abessa" Mekurya laments that in the West his country is only known for war and hunger crises. Ethiopia has a long history and very rich culture (and great cuisine). The Ehtiopiques series highlights the musical aspect of this rich culture. I can also recommend Vol. 1, 4, & 23.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A FORCE OF LIFE 3 Jan 2013
By David Keymer - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
MEKURIA, Getatchew, and The Ex & Friends. Y'anbessaw Tezeta. Terp. 2012. $19.58. MEKURIA, Getatchew, and the Ex. Moa Anbessa. Terp. 2010. $17.61.
GM, sax; Ex; guests.

EX ORKEST. Een Rondje Holland. Ex Records. 2011. $17.78. Ex with an orchestra.

At the age of 71, the great Ethiopian saxophone player Getatchew Mekuria asked the Ex, an anarcho-punk rock band from the Netherlands, to back him on his album, Moa anbessa, and five years later, when he was 76, they backed him on another album, Y'anbessaw Tezeta, at the head of an eleven-piece group. The second album includes a second disc of earlier music with Mekuria playing with various groups, dating from the early 1960s to 2004 (the modernist cooperative, the Instant Composers Pool). Modernist giant and musical pixie Hann Bennink plays drums on one cut on this second CD and Macarthur [genius grant] fellow Ken Vandermark scored and plays on the first.

The genesis of the albums was two tours of Ethiopia by the Ex somewhere around 2002, as part of their 25th anniversary tour. The core of the EX is its two guitar/drums and vocal lineup., which they freely augment with other players. Nowhere does this dhow better than on their own album, Een Rondje Holland, where a small orchestra of brass, reed and percussion players plus guitars and vocalists (often just speaking, not singing) attack the music in rowdy fashion, making both a musical and political statement that matches well with the best of American rap music., though filtered through the musical sensibilities of Kurt Weill and the political sentiments of Brecht.

If this sounds like difficult music, well it is. But it's awfully good as well, and filled with life and fun.

The two albums with Getatchew are more immediately accessible if simply because so powerfully rhythmic. And Mekuria is a BEAST as a saxophone player. He claims not to have heard Albert Ayler and John Coltrane but his music, from the fifties on, is an African (which means middle Eastern) analogue to this courageous players. Even at seventy-six, he plays like a young man, and because it has taken us so long to hear him ,he sounds startlingly fresh. In the liner notes to Moa anbessa, Chicago sax player Ken Vandermark, surely no stranger to modernist jazz, notes how hard it was to capture Mekuria's lines and flexible rhythm flow for the backup horn parts. What a shame it is that we have only four albums and five CDs of Mekuria's brilliant playing. (The fourth is album 14: Negus of Ethiopian Sax: Getatchew Mekuria, in Buda Records's influential Ethiopiques series. Mekuria also appears on vol. 20: Live in Addis, with the Either/Or Orchestra.)

As to the Ex, they may play rock but that barely defines them. Their music is not rock, not jazz. Rather, it`s experimental. And good and fun.
Neither Mekuria nor the Ex is your everyday listening experience, but both are well worth the effort. Mekuria is a giant. The rock collective The Ex is a fine group in a long tradition of Euro performers who use a music -in this case, rock--for a larger musical purpose, part mocking, part serious. Think, Nina Hagen or Lena Lovitch. Or Einsturzende Neubauten (thanks, Jeremy!) or even Melt-Banana.

Music shouldn't come in small boxes.
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