Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Ethio-jazz is a trancy-tribal stew of smokey American jazz, afrobeat and traditional East-African folk music. It’s like whiskey for the ears 👂
Big in the 50s and 60s (thanks to father of the genre Mulatu Astatke) it took a hit under the Marxist regime of Mengistu Haile-Mariam and nearly died out altogether. But thanks to Mulatu, democracy and the French music producer Francis Falceto the ethio-jazz scene is back in full swing. This is your guide to ethio-jazz in Addis Ababa…
Mama’s KitchenFollow young locals (and expats) to the top of the shopping mall beside the airport to find the city’s most sophisticated ethio-jazz bar. Mama’s Kitchen serves up its music with pizza, cocktails and the local St. George beer. A mix of local musicians and international artists play every night of the week.
African Jazz VillageOwned by main man Mulatu Astatke himself this place is less swish, more authentic jazz club vibes. Find it in the basement of the Ghion Hotel, where couples sit with glasses of wine and dance on the shadowy dancefloor. It’s best on the weekends but fb message them to get the programme for the week.
Fendinka Azmari BetThis is where the magic happens. A cultural centre filled with animal hides and traditional instruments, there’s something on most days of the week. You’ll get plenty of ethio-jazz from the 50s and 60s but Fendinka’s known to be ‘experimental’. This place is still relatively underground so it’s best to just turn up and see what’s going on.
Take it away Mulatu...