Co-presented by World Music Institute and (le) poisson rouge
Pre-performance Q&A with Francis Falceto, musicologist and producer of Éthiopiques compilations, moderated by Banning Eyre of Afropop Worldwide.
This concert is a rare opportunity to see two of Ethiopia’s legendary musicians perform in one night.
Over the last twenty years the Éthiopiques compilation series has been instrumental in introducing the legendary artists of Ethiopia to Western audiences. Among the most influential have been Mahmoud Ahmed, Mulatu Astatke, and Hailu Mergia & The Wailas Band.
For over 40 years, Mahmoud Ahmed has deftly combined the traditional Amharic music of Ethiopia with pop and jazz. As with the late great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, until one has heard Ahmed’s incredible voice, words hardly do it justice.
Opening is Hailu Mergia, the leader of the Walias Band, one of Ethiopia’s most celebrated jazz/funk bands in the 1970s, [who also recorded with the father of Ethio-Jazz, Mulatu Astatke.] In 1981 they went on tour in the US, opening up for none other than Mahmoud Ahmed. The band fizzled and Hailu stayed in Washington D.C. falling into obscurity.
In recent years, Hailu Mergia’s music has been re-introduced to audiences by Brian Shimkovitz of the blog/label Awesome Tapes from Africa. Desire for the music of Hailu Mergia has brought him back to the stage, opening for Mahmoud Ahmed once again.