Left - Mulatu Astatke. Cover - Black Jesus Experience
Mulatu Astatke and Black Jesus Experience played to a packed Piano Bar at the Adelaide Festival Centre, leaving a lasting impression of African rhythms mixed with urbane undertones and virtuosic improvisations. This is the second tour of Mulatu with Black Jesus Experience in Australia this year.
The power of the group was evident in the first two pieces which warmed up the crowd with diverse vocals and dance rhythms. Cheered by the band and the audience, Mulatu Astatke appeared humbly acknowledging the audience.
Mulatu has been most influential in popularising and developing Ethiopian music, in particular Ethio-jazz. He plays mainly the vibraphone but frequents percussion instruments. His signature is not the usual melodic flurry of instrumental brilliance one expects to hear in jazz improvisation. Instead, he blends melodies within intricate textures. Mulatu submerges himself in the music, becoming one with it.
As a result, he doesn’t seem to be doing much, but his presence radiates immense influence on the rest of the musicians. He acknowledges their improvisations with minimal gestures. It must be very encouraging for the young musicians to receive his approval. On the other hand, one could tell how much he enjoys their energy and enthusiasm.
Black Jesus Experience is a revelation. The power and sound that comes out of the eight musicians is immensely muscular and stimulating. The instrumentation comprised of a variety of sounds: a brass section of two saxophones and a trumpet; a solid rhythm section of electric bass, drums, congas and other percussion; electric guitar; keyboards, and two singers (female and male). No wonder Mulatu Astatke steps aside and leaves the young musicians to display their amazing talents and ensemble work.
Old African rhythms were given new meaning in the space of twelve compositions. The crowd was totally into the music, dancing along and begging for encores at the end.
For an intimate experience of this original music catch Black Jesus Experience at ‘The Horn’ in Collingwood, Melbourne.
Black Jesus Experience with Mulatu Astatke
Venue: The Piano Bar (Adelaide Festival Centre)
Date/Time: 8.30pm - 21 October, 2010
Tickets: Adult $45, Concession $40, Student $30, GreenRoom $19.95, Group (6+) $35
Bookings: BASS on 131 246 | www.bass.net.au