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Dub Colossus - Friday 18th Sept

PostPosted: Fri Sep 18, 2009 6:59 pm
by Charlie
Having been deeply and apparently eternally in love with the music of Mali for more than twenty years, is it possible that I could be in the process of transferring my affections to the sound of Ethiopia? If such a change happens, this programme will have played a pivotal role.

The man to blame is Nick Page, a veteran bass player and collaborator in many of the UK’s most adventurous groups, even going back as far (as I discovered while the musicians were doing a sound check) as Bumble and the Bees, an exciting group that sank with little trace back around 1981.

Nick is now out on his own and formulated a plan to make an album of Ethiopian music despite being based in the UK and having no immediate access to Ethiopian collaborators. Undeterred by such practicalities, he pre-recorded a few reggae-style backing tracks and set off with them to Addis Ababa, where he searched for singers and musicians prepared to put their words and music over his pre-prepared tracks. One by one, he recruited willing allies and then returned with the tapes to the UK where he edited, refined and added to the material that comprises A Town Called Addis.

Released on Real World, the album has become one of the year’s favourites, and the impact was reinforced by the band’s live performances. Despite not having previously worked together, the musicians and singers found enough common ground to work well as an ensemble, at WOMAD, at several venues around the country and in this session at Broadcasting House.

Fascinated by the different melodies that make Ethiopian music so instantly recognisable, I asked pianist Sammy Mitiku if it is possible to explain, and although he gallantly tried to demonstrate by playing a couple of modes, I confess to not really understanding his explanation. But I was entranced by his brief excursion into ‘Blue Monk’ by Thelonious Monk.

The ping pong exchange with Nick and Tesdenia provided a good crash course in Ethiopian music as well as being an opportunity for Nick to pay tribute to the Jamaican vocal group, The Abyssinians, whose name is significant in several ways.

Seq - Artist - Song Title - Album - Country - Label - Cat no

1 - Staff Benda Billili - Moziki - Tres Tres Fort - Congo - Crammed Discs - CRAW 51

2 - The Very Best - Kada Manja - Warm Heart of Africa - Malawi/ various - Malawi/UK - Moshi Moshi

1 - Lester Bowie - The Great Pretender (edit) - The Great Pretender - USA - ECM - 1209

2 - Momo Wandel Soumah - Toko - Afro Swing - Guinea Conakry - Fonti Musicali - FMD 217

Live session

5 - Dub Colossus - Seqota - Studio Session - Ethiopia - -

6 - Dub Colossus - Tezèta - Studio Session - Ethiopia - -

- ping pong with Nick 'Dub Colossus' himself (*) and Tsedenia (**)

**7 - Aster Aweke - Yene Konjo - Aster's Ballads - Ethiopia - Kabu - KV1NV0-CV

*8 - The Abyssinians - Abendigo - Forward to Zion - Jamaica - Klik - KLP 9023

9 - Chalachew Ashenafi - Munit - Ilita!: New Ethiopian Dance Music - Ethiopia - Terp - AS-15

**10 - Tlahoun Gèssèssè - Tezalègn Yètentu - Ethiopiques 17 - Ethiopia - Buda - 82266-2

*11 - The Abyssinians - Satta Massa Gana - Tree of Life - Jamaica - Blood & Fire - BAFCD 045

**12 - Gigi - Zomaye - Gigi - Ethiopia - Palm Pictures - PALMCD 2068-2

Live session, part 2:

13 - Dub Colossus - Yeka Sub City Rockers - Studio Session - Ethiopia

14 - Dub Colossus - Blue Monk (feat Sammy Mitiku, piano] - Studio Session - Ethiopia

15 - Dub Colossus - Asmari Dub - Studio Session - Ethiopia

16 - Moondog - Lament 1: Bird's Lament - Moondog - USA - Honest Jons - HJRCD 18

17 - DVA - harom kerom - Fonok - Czech Republic - Indies - MAM435-2

18 - Omar Souleyman - Atabat - Highway to Hassake - Syria - Sublime Frequencies - SF 031

PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2009 2:23 am
by liz molony
Do you think any of your listeners will have got back to sleep after that rousing programme Charlie?
They'll be up and making impromptu music like a big family wedding - all the people you enjoy most in the room together. ...and wonderful rhythms

Not only did you have the amazing Dub Colossus, with the great voices of Tsedenia and the Ethiopian singer she chose, but then came along Chalachew Ashenafi [whom I now recognise - 26 June]. And it did make me nearly wake my husband with laughing aloud when you followed the great saxophone piece of Moondog's Bird's Lament with the performance of DVA. .. their exciting sounds and beat. I so enjoyed them 7 Aug.

I like the way you reintroduce these musicians.

Tomorrow our village is singing together for 2 hours. I dream we'll do so surrounded by the kind of sound you brought to us tonight.

PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2009 3:44 pm
by Charlie
liz molony wrote: I dream we'll do so surrounded by the kind of sound you brought to us tonight.

Thank you, Liz

Does anybody know the Miriam Makeba recording of this song that Tsedenia introduced with the observation that Miriam had recorded a popular version of it?

**10 - Tlahoun Gèssèssè - Tezalègn Yètentu - Ethiopiques 17 - Ethiopia - Buda - 82266-2

PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 12:03 am
by liz molony
I found these but they didn't sound like the one Tsedenia played
Less drama and rhythms?

Yetentu Tizaleny
Recording #1 by Miriam Makeba:
Recording date: 1966
Playing time: 2:50
LP: MCY134029,

Yetentu Tizaleny
Recording #2 by Miriam Makeba:
Recording date: 1967
Playing time: 2:49
LP: RS6274
CD: COL-CD-2855



PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 10:58 am
by Charlie
email from:

1. Carolien Cleiren
Co-editor 'Mariama' african music programme Concertzender

Dear Charlie,

I have enjoyed your Ethiopian radio show. It is such beautiful music, one can't help to fall in love with it. But to compare it with Malian music is difficult, as the Ethiopian music is so different, intricate, enticing, it never ceases to surprise! So please keep your affection for both...

I am writing to you about something different. Our Dutch radiostation Concertzender ( is in trouble. The Publieke Omroep (Dutch equivalent of BBC) has decided that there is no longer a place for us in the radio world as we are not commercial. We work with 13 part time paid workers and 150 volunteers. It means that there now is hardly any exposure for world music both on radio or tv. Is is strange because there is plenty of interest. There are world music concerts and different festivals all over Holland throughout the year.

You are so lucky in England with all the world music programmes on radio 3 and BBC world radio, I wish the power to be (i.e. Publieke Omroep) would have that vision. But the accent of the radio stations should be young professionals which means easy listening, soft jazz etc. So there are no longer willing to fund us.

The Concertzender is looking at the moment for different sponsors and we hope to be able to continue.
There is an email address where people can protest about the lack of exposure of world music in both radio and tv and it is called:

Perhaps you might want to support our case and write a letter to them??

Kind regards,

Carolien Cleiren

email from Laure Panerai at Momo's

PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 11:28 am
by Charlie

Dub Colossus was my favourite band at MOMO this year.

Watch this video: ... d=60877591

All the best & hope you are well!




PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 10:29 pm
by Alan

PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2009 12:26 am
by judith
As always, thank you Alan for the link. I don't think I've had this much trouble with the BBC player for quite some time, continually getting the 'content not available, try another time' or nothing it all. It's probably coincidence of timing, but going through your link, I've been able to listen to almost the entire show. Oh well, it would have been worse if the only access was to a live show.

Conversely, I was introduced to West African music through Ethiopian and Ethiopian remains uptop my favorites shelf. I enjoyed this show so much, I started writing about it on the Sun Ra YouTube thread."...after listening to Charlie's Friday radio 3 show and considering while I listened how Ethiopian music has unplugged the notion that jazz is inaccessible from a few previously closed ears. I would think Charlie's show (his selections are superb.."

Not to say this show is about jazz. Lured in by my soft spot for Staff Binde Bilili and coincidentally another foray into my current obsession, unequal temperament, as the show progressed it just kept getting better and better, thus the frustration with the splotchy reception. Listening to Sammy Matiku playing the piano scales alone would have made me happy and for a brief moment I understood what another Ethiopian maestro, Maryam Guébrou, is up to. Add to that the opportunity to hear Tesdenia's stories, song selections, and explanations. Love her voice, singing or speaking. How perfect that Moondog (also on my top shelf of favorites), was also on the playlist. The BBC player punked out as Charlie was explaining who Omar Souleyman is but I see there is quite a bit of information on the net.

Thanks, Charlie.