What’s the connection between two members of the avant-garde group The Thing (Paal Nilssen-Love – drums and Mats Gustafsson – saxophone), Ethiopian musician Mesele Asmamaw and the legendary Dutch post rock/avant-garde outfit The Ex? Room 101 of the Baro Hotel, Addis Abeba, Ethiopia on February 27th 2010.
The Ex has been going to Ethiopia for quite a while. The first tour, with Han Bennink, in the north, was in 2002. The next one, in the south, during 2004. Through all the new and improvised music festivals they play, The Ex has connection with many adventurous musicians. So they started a series of projects in Ethiopia. With breakcore pop duo Zea in May 2008, followed by Silent Block from France (tables full of self-made instruments, experimental electronica and much more), in May 2009. And then two projects with “Saxophone”. Not only they bring Friso Heidinga from the saxophone repair-shop Amsterdam Winds, who fixed dozens of instruments, but also great players like Ken Vandermark, Ab Baars, Mats Gustafsson, who performed in combination with The Ex members and Norwegian free jazz drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. And all cooperated with many amazing Ethiopian musicians and dancers. Like Getatchew Mekuria, Melaku Belay, Indriss Hassen, Misale Legesse and krar-player Mesele Asmamaw (who we knew before from the Mohammed Jimmy Mohammed Trio).
The evening before the latest plan was about to leave Addis, Mesele, Paal and Mats wanted to record. After a week full of sensational cooperation and excitement, they had something to say. In room 101 of the Baro Hotel, Arnold de Boer and Andy Moor put down some microphones and an hour later the recording was ready. “Unheard music”. A krar, a baritone sax and drums. Free improvising.
1. Baro 101-a (19:30)
2. Baro 101-b (21:23)
Collaborations like this are common manifestations in the world of free improv/free jazz, but “Baro 101” goes far beyond most of them, this recording have both soul and energy, nerve and spirit, merged madness and harmony, traditional local folk motifs and contorted grooves, the trio take the listener into the eye of the musical hurricane straight to the heart of the mystic journey.
The European jazz improv and the Ethiopian musical tradition seems to find not only a common root, but sounds just like soul mates.
Brilliant it’s the least I can say.
CD €10, LP €17 – [email protected]