Getachew goes Punk! 55 Comments

Getachew Mekuria with The haile Selassie I Theatre Orchestra

The Sixth Ethiopian Music festival was held between January 9, 2007 through January 17, 2007. This year, the festival was dedicated to Amha Eshete, Ethiopia’s first independent music producer. Though I was in Addis during some of these dates, prior engagements and unforseen events prevented me to attend all but one date.

The closing date was at the Alliance Ethio-Francaise. There were two events set for that date, a documentary film on a live performance by Mahmoud Ahmed with the Either Orchestra and a live concert of Getachew Mekuria and the Dutch band, The Ex with their guests. The show was beyond remarkable. To say that the 72 year old Getachew, dazzled and mesmerized me was an under statement. It was at this concert that I picked up the their CD.

A little background on Getachew Mekuria. Getachew Mekuria was born in Yefat,Shewa, Ethiopia in 1935. At the age of 13, quit school and joined the Municipality music band. He started off by playing the clarinet first but then moved to the saxophone. In 1948 he took a music test and passed to join the Municipality Orchetra. During his career, he also played at the Haile Selassie I Theatre and the Police Orchestra.

Getachew is well known to have transposed the shellela (war chant) to the sax. Though his technique is often compared to free jazz performer Albert Ayler, Getachew’s technique precedes Ayler’s by at least a decade. Getachew Mekuria, The Ex & Guests’ “Moa Anbessa” is an 11 track CD, of which 5 of the tracks were recorded live on April 8, 2006. The Ex, is a dutch band who dabbles in Free Jazz and punk. The Ex have been in existence since 1979. Their members include Terrie Ex (guitar), Andy Moore (guitar), Katherina Ex(drums) and GW Sok (vocals). Their guests were Colin McLean(bass), Xavier Charles (clarinet), Brodie West (Alto Saxophone), Joost Buis (Trambone) and Cor Fuhler. The CD itself sports a detailed liner notes with amazing pictures. (Note to Ethiopian producers and record companies: please, please for the love of God, take note)

getachew mekurias album

The first track was Ethiopia Hagere, this song originally penned and performed by Frew Hailu was given a major twist when GW Sok English vocals appeared. In fact of the 11 tracks five of them have English vocals. I wasn’t expecting the vocals and I still haven’t made my mind whether I like it or not but I was definitely different. Most of the tracks Getachew picked are very famous and easily identified by Ethiopians alike.

I love the guitar introduction on “Almaz Yeharerwa.” The instrumentation on “Moa Anbessa” is beyond stellar. The hard work and long rehersals have paid off in creating something beautiful. Getachew Mekuria with the Ex have a few tour dates in September, all in Europe.

I’ve included two tracks for your listening pleasure. Also included is a live performance I filmed using my not so high quality Sony camera.

Track list for Moa Anbessa: 1. Ethiopia Hagere, 2. Sethed Seketelat, 3. Eywat Setenafegagn, 4. Che Belew Shellela, 5. Aynamaye Nesh, 6. Aynotche Terabu/Shemonmwanaye, 7. Musicawi Silt, 8. Tezeta, 9. Almaz Yeharerwa, 10. Tezalegn Yetentu, 11. Aha Begena

55 Responses to “Getachew goes Punk!”

  1. 1 munit

    love it, i will definitely get his album.

  2. 2 kiki

    Thanks again Jazzy. I always get Goosebumps when I hear him play. I like the two tracks you posted. I, like Munit, will definitely get the album.

  3. 3 Peaceethio

    when can we get his CD’s please?

  4. 4 DawitK

    Eth Jazz – You continue to impress me with your musical knowledge…keep it coming! Love the songs.

    By the way, can you buy me the CD and I will give you the money when I see you next time:-)

  5. 5 Alpha

    EJ…..nice piece….you never fail to amaze me when it comes to choice of music and artists…..I’m learning a lot. Thank you so much! you are awesome.

    oh and i too shall buy the CD today!!

  6. 6 Nolawi

    EJ did you mean funk and not punk

    i am thinking getachew mekuria is the ethiopian george clinton

    anyways can you also buy me the album and i will give you money next time i see you!

  7. 7 Dinich

    EJ man,

    Great stuff, yet again.

    I think I like the English part. It helps attract new listners while retaining old fans like you an me and also helps the CD penetrate the non abesha market. Besides, this is a remix and somrthing has to change. Otherwise, it will be the same old thing.

  8. 8 Chala

    Betam, betam arif. I too would love to get the CD.

  9. 9 masinkomelody

    Thanks for the post EJ. Really lovely read and selection of sounds… Please continue showering us with your knowledge of Ethiopian musicians.

    I’m so loving ‘Ethiopia Hagere’

  10. 10 Ethio Jazz

    Thanks everyone for your comments!

    Dawit and Nol that was actually very funny.
    Nol, I did mean Punk and not Funk, because of Getachew’s colaboration with The Ex Band, a Punk band.
    I guess there is a slight resembelance betwen Getachew wering the gofer and cloak with George Clinton. :)

    As for the CD, unfortunately I have not seen it around here (The DC area). Amazon and iTunes don’t carry it. The Ex’s website does have it for sale but the process is quite complicated and archaic.

    Dinich, I love your idea opening up to new things. I, on the other hand have a little ways to go. I mean I’ve gotten better but not there yet. :)

  11. 11 bgFelasfit

    thank u ej…
    this man is a musical genius…I would love to get my hands on a CD as well.

  12. 12 kiki

    Jazzy, I found the CD on SquidCo –
    It is a company out iof New York and the CD is in stock now.

  13. 13 zgent

    Great Post EJ, Getachew is one of the gems in Ethiopian music we still have around. I admire you for paying adequate tribute to people who otherwise are not much talked about or even forgotten. I remember admiring him playing the saxophone bending backwards till his back almost touched the ground and with that heavy body too. Thanks a lot for the post man.

  14. 14 lilye

    BeTam beTam arif post. I love love love GM & his sax. Lib new yeminekaw. Thank you EJ……… my boss just told me to lower the volume ! :)

  15. 15 .mike

    peh peh peh

    EJ, alah yistih abo! those two were dinQ

  16. 16 Bed_ford

    Thank you EJ; I am learning a lot about Ethiopian music and musician; in additional to the entertainment.

  17. 17 ethiopioneer

    you are one hell of guy who knows our music history…
    today i was reading “Guilty mentality” by Nolawi and this..and i was thinking how our music is getting worst just because producers and arrangers are focussing just for consumer. Those old people you are introducing us, are real passionate people..

  18. 18 Sky

    Thank you so much for the post EJ. Getachew’s play gives me goosebumps. Keep up the good job!!

  19. 19 ato asa

    Great you guys love it!! I didn’t really understand the #7 remark remix idea, unless you mean it in the sense of analog real-time now-time remix. I was heavily impressed with their combination while both retaining their own identity. There-s enough fusion already in the world. Was and is great to record it. Abesha Abet!!

  20. 20 nyalasmoke

    wow that was off the hook! I would like to get the CD too. If I do get it then it would be my first in over 5 years. Thanx EJ

  21. 21 celebratelife

    I always say EJ you are my official teacher of music. Really nice post.

  22. 22 Mamit

    Thank you Kiki for the info. I bought the CD from .
    So everyone, now you know where you can get the CD. I can wait till it gets delivered. Hope to enjoy all songs!

  23. 23 yekolotemari

    Thanks for this post. I love these music entries.

  24. 24 yonas

    EJ, thanks so much for introducing us to e-punk. and i hope they pay you commission for this coz i’m sure this post has seriously boosted the CD’s sales figures.

    folks in europe, recommend you order your copy online from this dutch record store. nice folks, fast service. i ordered mine on friday and got it monday.

  25. 25 bela'e injera

    I’m placing an order for this CD as well. This is Ethio fusion jazz at its best…

  26. 26 toothpick

    good goddamn.
    i’m at a loss for words.
    thank you so much, EJ. this is ridiculously good … i’m goosebumped out.

    … oh and the live version of “belomi benna” sounded incredible. wish there was more footage of that :)

  27. 27 Adjoa


    Ive heard the name and music before on another site.
    where can you buy a CD and not have to place the order online with a credit card??

  28. 28 embrt

    my god…im in love. Mekuria has always beena genuis but the collab with The Ex Band sounds like prefection. it’s a bitch to purchase the CD but i went through like the band’s website suggests.

  29. 29 embrt

    got the album today.

    simply the shit.

  30. 30 Sakita

    He will be performing in DC August 13 at The Black Cat
    Baltimore on August 14 at Otto Bar
    Boston on August 15 at The Middle East and
    New York on August 20 at the Lincoln

  31. 31 Nolawi

    I will be there on august 13ths…

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