Ethiopia’s music company Muzikawi reissue the self-titled solo instrumental album of Ethio-jazz composer Dawit Yifru, which offers an exceptional occasion to rediscover one of the most important eras in Ethiopia’s music history.
This 11-track album features a compilation of songs that were restored and remastered from cassettes released throughout the 1970s. With Ethiopian Chickchika music, Twist, Congolese Rumba, and Waltz music styles converging, the songs reflect the dynamic musical crossroads that were present at the time. However, it is the inclusion of the violin, which was uncommon at the time, that presents Dawit Yifru as a visionary composer amongst his contemporaries.
“These elements have come together to create Ethio-jazz music at its most bold, spiritual and syncretic,” Remarks Muzikawi founder Teshome Wondimu. “With this compilation, Dawit Yifru offers a bright window into the past of Ethiopia’s music scene which is so rich, deep and sophisticated, with a gentle, beautiful story to tell – and we see ourselves as the messengers who are bringing the world this story and sound.”
This compilation is the first release of the Muzikawi’s Archive & Research project, which seeks to re-record and re-issue some of Ethiopia’s most celebrated music that never made it outside the country, in the process bringing recognition to musicians whose music never made it to the international market.
“Every country has its stars, its loved singers, but there are of course titans of their era and Dawit Yifru is one of the few, ” Wondimu said. “The reason many will be experiencing his works for the first time is because in the 1970s, the Ethiopian music ‘industry’ thrived only at the capital Addis Ababa with little recording infrastructure in comparison to its neighbours like Kenya and Uganda, where cult record labels and producers captured the countries’ sound and made the recordings available internationally and for the masses.” “Therefore, our Archive & Research project is a guaranteed way to keep these great works of music alive and circulating. Overall, this compilation is an absolutely brilliant and must-own recording from one of the most original sounding Ethiopian composers you’ll ever hear. Hopefully this release will open the door for the world to discover more incredible music and culture from Ethiopia.”
Dawit Yifru remains a household name in Ethiopia due to his commitment to collaborating with a diverse range of musicians and sharing his musical skills not just with his peers, but with the new generation of musicians.