Ethiopiques 22 75 Comments

Aka Could I have been any luckier?

ethiopiques 22My love for Ethiopian music started at a very young age. Both my parents loved music, my mother was a huge fan of traditional music whereas my father loved the modern. Between the two of them I was made aware of the sounds ranging from Kassa Tessema and Asnaketch Werqu to Mahmoud Ahmed and Alemayehu Eshete.

My father loved Alemayehu Eshete! I remember distinctly my father turning the reel-to-reel tape on and the soulful and soothing voice of Alemayehu Eshete coming alive through the speakers. The love my father had for Alemayehu was definitely transferred onto me from an early age.

Fast forward to January 2007. I was fortunate enough to travel to Addis Ababa and meet Francis Falceto, the editor of the Ethiopiques series. Though we had communicated via phone and email, this was our first face-to-face meeting. We met at the last day of the Sixth Annual Ethiopian Music Festival. As it was quite hectic we chatted only for a short while and decided to meet a few days later.

It was then that Francis asked me if I had the time to help out on an upcoming project. To say I was floored by the question would be an understatement. I quickly agreed without asking what the project was. I was extremely afraid when he told me that I would be responsible in translating the Amharic lyrics for Ethiopiques 22 into English. Wow! I just wasn’t sure, but then the aspect of being involved overwhelmed me and I whole heartedly agreed to take on the task. At this point Francis informed me that the entire Ethiopiques 22 was going to be dedicated to Alemayehu Eshete. I was excited! No, I was beyond excited!

Once I got back to the States, Francis sent me the mp3′s for the album and started transcribing the lyrics first. The mp3′s were converted from the 45′s and so at times it was extremely difficult to make out the words. This is where my close friend, the bassist Abiyou Solomon, helped me a great deal.

And then the daunting task of translating the lyrics started. I was lost, lost, lost. A close cousin (thank you Y) came to my aid. Somehow we fed of each other and came up with the words. It was not finding an exact word translation that was most difficult, it was trying to put the essence of the songs into English that was extremely arduous. I sent Francis the finished product. I breathed a sigh of relief. It was over!

About a month and half ago, I received a package from Francis. “Ethiopiques 22: Alemayehu Eshete, More Vintage featuring Girma Beyene” was finally on its way to being released.

I was incredibly thrilled to see that Francis had stuck to an idea he had for the album cover. A young Alemayehu and Girma Beyene both manning the organ.

The CD consists of 18 tracks recorded from February 1972 to April 1974. All the tracks were recorded by Philips Ethiopia with Kassahun Eshete as the probable producer. Four bands back Alemayehu on this CD: All Star Band, Alem-Girma Band, Shebeles Band (which later became the Walias Band) and Marathon Band. All 18 tracks were arranged by the wonderful Girma Beyene. He mans the piano on all the tracks. His piano skills on Ambassel (slow) is beyond stellar. I’ve found that Alemayehu Eshete’s Ambassel is one of the most amazing tracks. A surprise in this release is the inclusion of an Ambassel (fast)—this is where Girma Beyene’s arrangement is pure genius. Yes, I readily admit I’m partial when it comes to Girma Beyene. He is one of those musicians that you can’t help but love. His music is filled with various musical colors. I wish artists today can learn a little from him and the bands before them. To me, a varied instrumentation is key to the success of a song and or album. Here you have the great bands, with their genius arranger and an amazing vocalist. It boggles the mind that these songs were recorded on a two-track recording device, which means that there were only two microphones in the studio, one for the vocalist and the other for the entire band. There is no room for error…if the vocalist or a musician fumbles the recording will be repeated from the start. No wonder the musicians from the yester years demanded perfection. Its sad to see today the advancement of the recording technology has basically killed the genuine feel music used to have.

Standout tracks include Ambassel (slow & fast), Temar Ledje, Hode Fera, Tequr Gessela, Wetader Negn, Yeqer Aynessa, Gubeleye and Yebeqenal.

I was honored to work on this project and I can’t thank Francis enough for giving me the opportunity to be part of this cd featuring my two favorite artists of all time.

Do yourself a favor and pick up this album. I promise, you will not be dissapointed.  I’ve posted a couple of excerpts so as to keep you wanting more.

75 Responses to “Ethiopiques 22”

  1. 1 Nolawi

    whoomp whomp … great podcast… also we are also lucky that we are able to get access to so much knowledge and art!

    Thanks for all the great musiqa…

    enemar lije!

  2. 2 DawitK

    Ethio, they couldn’t have picked a better person for the project as I know your dedication and love for music. Truly an amazing piece and as always thank you for blessing us with your musical knowledge.

  3. 3 S

    Amazing!! Alemayehu Eshete is my favorite. I’ll be picking up the album. and what a great article. Congrats EthioJazz, I think this is your life’s calling. Hope you get to do more of this…if you’d like to that is.

  4. 4 wudnesh

    Jazziye, thanks for sharing. Will def. pick one when I visit the shops.

  5. 5 yonas

    thanks ej! alemayehu and gb are both firm favourites of mine so i’m downloading the album right now (album is available for purchase on itunes). have you heard ethiopiques 23 (orchestra ethiopia) yet?

  6. 6 yonas

    oops … just realised this means that i won’t be able to see your work on the liner notes :(

  7. 7 Dinich


    Good job once more.

    Good to hear that you are getting involved in these projects. Often times projects are assigned to the wrong people just because they are there. In your case it is like….lehodam bere Chid yaziletal

    I have a Q. I am really intrigued by the sound quality. Do you know if they worked off of the original multi-track records and re-mix/re-master them or it is just a remastering of the stereo sound from the record. Its clarity is not too bad for a 35 year old record…

  8. 8 Bed_ford

    Thank you for the information and for letting us know the CD is out; I will pick the CD.

  9. 9 toto

    EJ, what a great job! after reading all your music bloggs, I was wondering why you don’t go beyond Bernos for the revival of the oldies. I was right to think of that, here you are, you did it!!

  10. 10 abraham

    EJ,great job!will def pick one.thanks for sharing…

  11. 11 zgent

    EJ, let more opportunities like this fall on your lap, for it definitely enriches my ET music knowledge. Your posts and podcasts are always entertaining. Thanks man.

  12. 12 kiki

    Thanks again! I love Alemayehu. I will make sure to pick up the CD so I can see all your hard work. :D

  13. 13 Emfraz


  14. 14 masinkomelody

    EJ, as always, i’m loving your musical knowledge. It must have been a really great experience being part of it.

  15. 15 justme

    wowo..Ej…i am soo soo proud of you..i will make sure i got this cd not b/c it is Alemayehu but it is your work too…(it is just too perfect to be true..
    thanks for your hard work and sharing your insight on music….

  16. 16 Doro Mata

    awesome stuff man! I have no memory with Alemayehu Eshete, but I’ll get this album and make some! :D

  17. 17 Tigist

    hello dear

  18. 18 Ethio Jazz

    Thanks everyone for your support and kind words. Your best wishes and encouragments always leaves me with wanting to do more.

    Yonas: sorry you have to purchase it twice ;) as for Ethiopiques 23: Orchestra Ethiopia–yes I have it and I’ll do a review of it very soon.

    Dinich: lol @ lehodam… As for your question about the sound quality, from my understanding I think they lifted the songs from the original pressed LP’s and then remastered them. I’ll ask and will let you know what I find out.

    Doroye: now that’s what I’m talking about…go ahead and write about the memories in say a year or so later :)

  19. 19 Mimi

    WOW! Congrats EthioJazz, love Alemayehu. I can’t wait to pick up the CD.Great job.

  20. 20 Sky

    EJ, great work and you know you are my musical genius.
    Thank you so much for sharing.

  21. 21 chereqa

    I came to loving music because of Alemayehu and the musicians who have worked with him at different times. Finally, I ended up a musician . I’m honored to have the privilege of working with Alemayehu. If you could, please advice Francis to work on some of Alemayehu’s songs that did not make it to becoming the publics favorite (Inkoy nat ye abaye dar, altegebkum gena, lemin naw fikriyae kenae yemitriqi) etc.

    Like I’ve said it before, Girma is to Ethiopian music as Quincy Jonnes is to American. They both have golden touches. I’m wondering if we are ever going to see Girma back into music again.

  22. 22 Doro Mata

    [quote comment="86240"]hello dear[/quote]


    I just found it funny.

  23. 23 ethiopioneer

    everybody already said it…EJ..great article and work man..

  24. 24 Alpha

    I can’t say nothing that nobody said before…..but since I know how much MY comments mean to you….here i go…Great job Ej, I’m so glad you had the opportunity to work closely with one of your favorite musicans of all times, and thanks for all of the edumication on ethio-music

    BTW….whatever happened to my personal signed copy? :)

  25. 25 hewe

    Ethio Jazzyeyeye!! keep edumacating us, i seriously love this post…and learning about ET music…’re good!!

  26. 26 celebratelife

    EJ, As always thank you for being our Ethio music teacher. I’ve learned more from visiting BP and I’ll get the CD to support

  27. 27 justme

    [quote comment="87039"]
    BTW….whatever happened to my personal signed copy? :) [/quote]


  28. 28 erm

    Elil Elil Eliillliiillliillll!!!

    The notion of missing these songs (in vol 22) in the previous ethiopiques volumes used to bug me a lot. I really am short of words to express myself. I am really pleased to hear the release of Almayehu’s more songs. One of these days I was humming “Hode fera” and “Yikir Ayinessa” (not personal, but I love them) As a big fan of Alye, now I am close to complete collections of his songs even if there are some left. AND no more regret of my old records and tapes I left back at home.
    Wetader Negne is still fresh in my head as a childhood memory singing it whith friends at elementary school.

    BIG thanks goes to EJ for every thing.

  29. 29 Senaserate

    What a Wonderful collection, Ethio-Jazz thank you. Almayhu Eshate is like the James Brown of Ethiopia. I will definitely pick it up.

  30. 30 yonas

    nice interview with francis falceto and a showcase for ethiopiques on last night’s bbc radio 1 gilles petersion show … you can listen to it here until next week (wed 7th nov 2007)

  31. 31 Nolawi
  32. 32 micheal

    many of us have been influenced by Ale E girma B as a matter of fact one of alem girma band saxophonist is my room mate. He still alive and kicking. Me and him saw Ale E at both Venus and lalibela in dc va cd release party. Ale is funny as hell.

  33. 33 meera

    what a great post! so glad i stumbled upon this. i have a question/favor to ask…do you know how i can get ahold of the lyrics to Temeles (on Volume 3) by Alemayehu Eshete and Hirut Beqele? My band wants to cover the song, and it would be great to have the actual lyrics as opposed to my phonetic transcription. i’d really appreciate it!

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