Friday, May 20, 2011

Getatchew Mekuria & The Ex & Guests - Moa Anbessa

Getatchew Mekuria - tenor saxophone;
The Ex:
Katherina Bornefeld - drums;
Terrie Hessels - guitar;
Andy Moor - guitar;
GW Sok - vocals;

Colin McLean - bass;
Xavier Charles - clarinet;
Brodie West - alto saxophone;
Joost Buis - trombone;
Cor Fuhler - organ (# 6,9,10);


01. Ethiopia Hagere [06:30]
02. Sethed Seketelat [04:31]
03. Eywat Setenafegagn [05:04]
04. Che Belew Shellela [04:50]
05. Aynamaye Nesh [05:55]
06. Aynoche Terabu / Shemonmwanaye [08:15]
07. Musicawi Silt [04:22.54]
08. Tezeta [04:16]
09. Almaz Yeharerwa [05:35]
10. Tezalegn Yetentu [06:02]
11. Aha Begena [06:30]

Recorded April 03-04 2006.
Tracks 3,5,6,8,11 recorded live on April 08 2006.
Terp Records

‘‘A killer combination of sounds - the searing tenor sax of Getatchew Mekuria and the raspy guitars of The Ex brought together here in really unique cross-cultural formation! Mekuria's influence really transforms the sound of The Ex, bringing their anarchic spirit into a strongly Ethiopian mode, one that's further underscored by some great guest horn work on clarinet, alto, and trombone used like the kind of horn sections you'd find on Ethiopian recordings from the 70s, which lets Mekuria really do his thing by soloing over the tunes with a great deal of feeling.’’
Dusty Groove America.

Getatchew Mekuria is the most revered veteran of the Ethiopian saxophone. A real giant, both physically and musically. In his seventies, he is still in full voice, with his own, powerfully distinctive style of playing. His huge vibrato, both forceful and fragile, plays around the vocal lines, using typical Ethiopian embellishments. He started playing in 1947 in the Addis Abeba Municipal Band, then in the Haile Selassie 1 Theatre Orchestra and the Police Orchestra. He also backed up all the famous Ethiopian singers. Getatchew Mekuria is the inventor of a musical style called the ‘Shellele’, which originates from an heroic war-chant, translated to the saxophone. When he plays it, he dons a lion’s mane and cuts loose with furious solos that are a kind of free jazz, from before free jazz existed.

The Ex, from Holland, often descibed as an avant-ethno-improv-punk band, toured Ethiopia twice and fell in love with its music. The Ex had their 25th year anniversary party in November 2004 and they invited Getatchew to perform there with the ICP, the Instant Composers Pool, for many decades Holland’s most amazing free-improvising jazz group.

It was his first time traveling outside of Ethiopia but he accepted the ICP as if they were his own band, donned his lion’s mane, the ‘gofere’, and blasted everyone off stage. On the 25-year-Ex-convoy-tour around France, he played with The Ex.

He was so inspired that he suggested to The Ex he should record his next CD with them. He gave them 10 solo saxophone versions of Ethiopian tunes, which they arranged and practiced. Then in April 2006 Getatchew traveled to the Netherlands for some concerts and recording sessions.

The result is unique; Getatchew’s melodies and solos mesh with The Ex’s rhythms, noise and vocals, supported by a guest impro-horn section.

There were some 80 concerts on many Jazz-, Worldmusic- and Rock-festivals and a presentation of the CD in Addis Abeba, where the record also was released on cassette. First pressing 10.000!
#7.Musicawi Silt
The Ex and Getatchew Mekuria at Damrosch Park, NYC, August 20th 2008

#2.Sethed Seketelat

Concert au Point Ephémère à Paris le 12 novembre 2008

#11.Aha Begena live

Rondellus - Sabbatum (A Medieval Tribute To Black Sabbath)

Veikko Kiiver - organistrum and vocals
Miriam Andersén - Gothic Harp on #7: Magus (The Wizard) and #2: Oculi filioli (Junior's Eyes)
Maria Staak - hurdy-gurdy on #2: Oculi filioli (Junior's Eyes) and organistrum on #4: Symptoma mundi (Symptom of the Universe)
Robert Staak - lute on #12: Architectus urbis caelestis (Spiral Architect) and #10: Planetarum vagatio (Planet Caravan)
Cätlin Jaago - the bagpipe on #11: Via gravis (A Hard Road)
Tuule Kann - psaltery on #10: Planetarum vagatio (Planet Caravan
Marju Riisikamp - positive organ on #8 Solitudo (Solitude)
Tõnu Jõesaar - fiddle on #7: Magus (The Wizard), #5: Post murum somnii (Behind the Wall of Sleep), #2: Oculi filioli (Junior's Eyes) and #3: Funambulus domesticus (A National Acrobat)
Robert Staak - frame drum on #1: Verres militares (War Pigs), #9: Rotae confusionis (Wheels of Confusion), #5: Post murum somnii (Behind the Wall of Sleep), #2: Oculi filioli (Junior's Eyes), #3: Funambulus domesticus (A National Acrobat) and #11: Via gravis (A Hard Road)


01. Verres militares (War Pigs) [03:27]
02. Oculi Filioli (Junior's Eyes) [05:33]
03. Funambulus domesticus (A National Acrobat) [06:13]
04. Symptoma Mundi (Symptom of the Universe) [04:44]
05. Post murum somnii (Behind the Wall of Sleep) [05:00]
06. Post aeternitatem (After Forever) [03:42]
07. Magus (The Wizard) [03:51]
08. Solitudo (Solitude) [03:50]
09. Rotae confusionis (Wheels of Confusion) [03:05]
10. Planetarum vagatio (Planet Caravan) [03:57]
11. Via gravis (A Hard Road) [05:20]
12. Architectus urbis caelestis (Spiral Architect) [04:52]

Recorded at the Tallin Merchant Guild (2002)
Beg the Bug Records (2002)
Monsters of rock Records(2003)


“Sabbatum” is a tribute album like no other – 12 Black Sabbath classic songs played by early music band Rondellus and sung in Latin language.
Can You imagine what Black Sabbath would have sounded like if Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward would have formed the band in the 14th century? Would “War Pigs” or “The Wizard” have been as powerful if played on medieval instruments like lute, fiddle and harp?

Rondellus are a gathering of 3-5 musicians who hail from Estonia and play music based in the 14th century using only instruments and vocal techniques from that time. Maria Staak is the brains behind this project and did all of the arrangements. So what exactly is this???? Well, this is Black Sabbath songs sung in Latin and played with only ancient instruments. Pretty strange you say? well it is, but is it good? YES........ If you like Black Sabbath then you must hear this. Put this on late at night and just relax and imagine.. Most of the songs you will recognize right away like War Pigs, Solitude, Planet Caravan, as the arrangements are nearly the same as the original. War pigs starts off the CD and is basically all vocals and a drum. Very eerie and cool.. Some songs have a hurdy gurdy, gothic harp, organsitrum, fiddle, and bells. Some of the other songs played are After Forever, Behind the Walls of Sleep, the Wizard, A hard Road, Juniors Eyes, Symptom of the Universe and A Spiral Architect. I think it is pretty amazing stuff and a great project. Congratulations on a success.
Reviewed by Scott Heller (from Aural Innovations #19 (April 2002)


The story of Sabbatum
Interview with producer Mihkel Raud.

How did You meet Rondellus?

When I first came to the idea of recording Black Sabbath songs as if they were written and performed during the middle ages, I started to ask around in order to find an early music band that would turn my "crazy idea" into reality. One name kept coming up - Rondellus. So I approached them and explained what I had in mind. It didn't take much time at all to convince them. They are the most open-minded people I have met during my entire life. More open-minded than the majority of rock musicians I have seen. I've been blessed by having the opportunity to work with Rondellus. They are very creative and talented.

How did You come to the idea of recording a "medieval" Black Sabbath album?

I guess for me the whole Sabbatum thing started a very long time ago. I've been a dedicated Black Sabbath maniac for as long as I can remember. My older brother used to listen to them a lot in the seventies. I was a child back then but I can definitely remember I was caught by Sabbath immediately.

I formed my very own Black Sabbath tribute band at the age of 13. I used to sing and play the guitar at the same time. I was kind of Ozzy and Tony Iommi in one person. So in a way "Sabbatum" is an extension of something I started in my early teens. However, this time around I decided to explore a totally different angle in Black Sabbath music.

Which is?

Well, people tend to believe that the main foundation for Black Sabbath were the riffs. Even though I can agree with that to a great extent, I still think it's not 100 % so. Obviously, no-one could imagine Sabbath without Tony Iommi and his killer riffs. And fantastic solos of course. Still, there is so much more in Black Sabbath.

"Sabbatum" is a Black Sabbath cover album that isn't built around riffs only. We have used some of them ( "A National Acrobat" and " Behind the Wall of Sleep" for example) but basically we were focused on melodies and lyrics. And with medieval instruments and arrangements we tried to re-create them in a totally different enviroment. A few tracks on "Sabbatum" are really minimalistic - just a'capella singing and medieval percussion. Others are with full instrumentation.

Why medieval music?

Normally bands would cover classic rock songs in order to make them sound modern, to give them something they belive wasn't possible to achive back when the originals were recorded. We were determined to have it the other way round. We were kind of playing with the idea that our versions were the originals, some unknown songs from the middle-ages that Black Sabbath found and recorded centuries later.

The other goal was to explore connections between rock and early music. In fact they are not as different as many would expect. By taking these Black Sabbath songs back in time we wanted to prove that the word "power" is very often misunderstood. It's not always a massive wall of sound that makes music powerful. There can be a lot of energy in just one person singing.

All songs are sung in Latin on "Sabbatum". Why?

Medieval music sounds more authentic in Latin. I guess this is one of the main stereotypes of early music but we didn't see any substantial reason to have it any other way. Our goal was to keep the whole thing as true to the early music principles as possible

How did You choose songs for "Sabbatum"?

I had my own "wish list" and Rondellus had theirs. By combining the two of them we came to a collection of songs that in my opinion represents Black Sabbath at their very best. Unfortunately, there are so many great songs we just couldn't do this time. Some of them didn't work with medieval arrangements and some had lyrics which might have been misunderstood.

I was sure of not having "Paranoid" or "Iron Man" on the album. Both of them are brilliant but it's so predictable to have these titles on a Black Sabbath tribute album. We wanted to include some of these "under-rated" songs as well. I'm not sure if I have heard a cover of "Junior's Eyes" before. I have now and to my biggest surprise it turned out to be one of the key songs on "Sabbatum".

You mentioned lyrical content as the reason for not covering some of the Black Sabbath songs. Could You be more specific?

Well, I would be lying if I said that the issue of widely misunderstood image of Black Sabbath didn't come up. Most of the musicians involved in "Sabbatum" are religious. Unfortunaltely, the misconstruction of Black Sabbath being the founders of "dark" and "satanic" rock music is massive. I have no idea where it came from. Just look at the lyrics - there is nothing whatsoever "satanic" in them. Sabbath used black magic only as a reference, their darker lyrics were in fact warnings against Satanism.

Like I said, Rondellus is a group of very open-minded people and they didn't have a problem with Black Sabbath lyrics or music. Still I felt that asking them to sing "my name is Lucifer, please take my hand" would have been too much. Regardless of what the true meaning of these lines was.

I'm convinced that "Sabbatum" is an album of love and faith. It has been a privilege to be a part of such a project. Working on my all time favourite songs was a dream come true. Rondellus is by far the most intelligent and talented band I've ever had the pleasure to work with.