A hypnotic mix of musical styles, Ethio-jazz has a fascinating history and is enjoying a comeback at venues across the city and its not just names from the past who are setting the tempo
Im submerged in a heaving, sweaty mass of bodies, all singing, dancing, clapping along to the mesmeric crooning of Alemayehu Eshete the man known as the Ethiopian Elvis. Its Saturday night and Im sharing limited oxygen with Addis Ababas great and good at Mamas Kitchen, a wood-and-glass bar on the fourth floor of an innocuous shopping mall near Bole airport. Eshete, a shining star of the 1960s Ethiopian music scene, conducts the revelry in local Amharic tones as his band deliver a hypnotic mix of funky jazz, rockabilly and the swinging scales of traditional Ethiopian folk. This is Ethio-jazz.
A fusion of the eerie rhythms of ancient Ethiopian tribal music with the soulful undertones of jazz and the funky bounce of Afrobeat, Ethio-jazz had its heyday in the 1950s and 60s but in recent years has been making a slow but unmistakable comeback in the countrys capital.
There are kids now playing Ethio-Jazz. Its really becoming big again, music legend Mulatu Astatke tells me on the sidelines of a gig at his bar, African Jazz Village. I have this radio programme; for seven years I have been pumping out Ethio-jazz, teaching the people what its all about, but its definitely catching on now.