Concert, presented by silent green and XJAZZ
It is easy to understand the return of Hailu Mergia to the world of music as one of the most unlikely comebacks of the last few years:
The keyboardist was a major star in 1970es Ethiopia, presiding over the country's leading instrumental ensemble Walias Band, which worked restlessly on the Addis Ababa hotel circuit and jamming with luminaries like Duke Ellington and Manu Dibango. In 1981 a good part of Walias including Hailu used the first ever US tour of an Ethiopian music group to escape the dictatorial Mengistu regime. Since then Hailu has been spending most of his recent years as a cab driver in Washington DC and playing only privately.
Enter Brian Shimkovitz, operator of the acclaimed blog-turned-record label Awesome Tapes From Africa, who came across "Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument", a somehow obscure 1985 cassette, in a music store in Ethiopia, tracked down the old maestro and reissued it: This charming tape has both a nostalgic feel (in its attempt to revive the accordion, once East Africa's leading instrument before electrified "western" rock style instrumentation took over) as well as a futuristic dimension (recorded by the exiled Hailu all by himself in multi-track it features a host of synthesizers and drum machines). On the back of Shimkovitz' reissue of "Classical Instrument" (which came out June 25, 2013), Hailu started to play live again – in Europe with a hard-to-beat rhythm section made up from two leading Australian improvisers living in Berlin: Tony Buck (drums) has been involved in a highly diverse array of projects but is probably best known around the world as a member of the genre-bending trio and cult band The Necks. Mike Majkowski on double bass has come to acclaim with his imaginative solo performances and for his sideman work for Peter Brötzmann and Han Bennink.
Together the trio explores the deep, liquid and hypnotic qualities of Hailu Mergia's music, while not forgetting to throw in some defty bits of funk now and then.
Tickets: 19.80 € (presale), also available at the door