let's talk about ethiopiques 21 - ethiopia song/piano solo

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and specifically about track 13 - the song of abayi - the best thing i've heard in so long.

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 8 February 2007 15:57 (thirteen years ago) link

as a sucker for ethiopian music AND solo piano this one just punches all my buttons. gorgeous.

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 8 February 2007 15:58 (thirteen years ago) link


is anyone anticipating the new Baaderonixx? (baaderonixx), Thursday, 8 February 2007 16:17 (thirteen years ago) link

i can provide you with neither. sorry.

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 8 February 2007 16:24 (thirteen years ago) link

i found this somewhere though:

"Having exposed the goldmine of pre-Mengistu Swinging Addis and tentatively explored traditional instrumental and vocal music, Francis Falceto's incomparable Ethiopiques series keeps rolling with one of its strangest volumes yet. Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou was a daughter of privilege, and as such was sent abroad to Europe in the 1930s for a Western education. Her schooling included music, and she became a pianist, eventually moving to Jerusalem and recording highly unique pieces that filter the traditional Ethiopian pentatonic scale through classical technique-- in the end sounding like impressionistic jazz.


Okay, we can all breathe a sigh of relief. The always amazing Ethiopiques series continues on past volume 20 with no end in sight. We were wrongly led to believe that volume 20 was to be the last in this, one of our all time favorite series, and we were heartbroken. On top of that, the final installment was quite surprisingly a live recording of modern day American musicians jamming with an Ethiopian band. It was still cool, but it was a bit tough to figure out why the curaters of this series would choose to go out on that kind of admittedly anticlimactic note, when there were certainly hundreds of buried treasures from the golden age of Ethiopian music that most definitely deserved to be unearthed. This newst volume quickly sets everything right, being entirely the solo piano of a woman named Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou. Her playing is devastatingly lovely and haunting. A curious hybrid of old time jazz and classical, but still truly Ethiopian. Dark and contemplative, moody but subtly playful as well. Culled mainly from recordings from the late 40's early 50's, a period during which Guebrou had recently left the convent due to illness, and then continued to compose and perform as a way of raising money for charity. And THAT's on the heels of having moved to Egypt and then returned to Ethiopia a figure of high society, her dream of playing piano dashed by the Emperor, which led her to sickness and then near death, she even received the last rites, survived and then joined the Imperial Guard, went back to school to study business finally fleeing to join a convent and become a nun. All the while continuing to play music, in fact she continues to perform to this day, in Ethiopia where she still lives, four of her most recent recordings (from 1996) are included here as well.

Her story is amazing, the liner notes go into great detail about her fantastic and adventurous life, but her music is equally as remarkable, the sound and feel is so dense with memory and imagery, musical but somehow quite visual, warm and woozy, a fuzzy, sepia toned old timey feel, due in no small part to the recording, which is quite reminiscent of old 78's, the soundtrack to movie Crumb, that sort of thing, dark rumbling low notes underpin sweet swirls and delicate flurries of minor key melody, sweet and lowdown for sure, warm evenings, back porches, big beautifully appointed parlors, huge empty fields, grass waving in the breeze, long late night wanders, moonlight strolls, so completely dreamy and lovely. Definitely one of out favorites so far in the series. We hope it never ends!"

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 8 February 2007 16:28 (thirteen years ago) link

that was from aquarius! oh! and there's streaming links here:


s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 8 February 2007 16:29 (thirteen years ago) link

and the first quote is from... pitchfork?!

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 8 February 2007 16:30 (thirteen years ago) link

And you're surprised why?

NPR did an interview with the Ethiopiques series curator last summer:


Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 8 February 2007 16:31 (thirteen years ago) link

i dunno why!

can't find it on their site though!

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 8 February 2007 16:32 (thirteen years ago) link

anyway... if this turns into a pitchfork thread i will cry. let's talk about the album.

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 8 February 2007 16:32 (thirteen years ago) link

Thanks for the link!

Haven't made it down the page yet, I'm still stuck on the samples of vol. 19 (Mahmoud Ahmed). I'd forgotten how much I love this stuff.

is anyone anticipating the new Baaderonixx? (baaderonixx), Thursday, 8 February 2007 16:39 (thirteen years ago) link

Picked up about 12 volumes during the Tower Records implosion. Now for the rest...

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 8 February 2007 16:43 (thirteen years ago) link

i've only heard bits and pieces of these comps--is there a good place to start? With number one? Wish I had had a Tower Records go out of business near me! Dang.

Tyler W (tylerw), Thursday, 8 February 2007 16:56 (thirteen years ago) link

I will be buying this. Thanks for the enlightening me.

Jim M (jmcgaw), Thursday, 8 February 2007 17:33 (thirteen years ago) link

you won't regret it!

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 8 February 2007 18:25 (thirteen years ago) link

I'm listening to some Mahmoud Ahmed right now and I have to say that although I love his songs individually, I get physically nauseous after a while when I hear his stuff. Something about the wobbly and kind of underwatery tones reminds me of bad dope experiences.

is anyone anticipating the new Baaderonixx? (baaderonixx), Friday, 9 February 2007 11:40 (thirteen years ago) link

From teh NYTimes last April

Critics' Choice
New CD's
Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou
"Éthiopiques 21"
(Buda Musique)

The pianist Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou is an Ethiopian nun. And her background was not as a popular musician: her upbringing was high-society all the way. In the 1940's she studied in Cairo, under a Polish classical violinist who was at one time the musical director of Emperor Haile Selassie's Imperial Bodyguard Band. Returning to Ethiopia at 21, she was to study in England, but the emperor stepped on the plan. Her hopes crushed, she burrowed into religion. She seems to have made five records of her own music, between 1963 and 1996, and has donated all the proceeds to the poor. She lives in an Ethiopian convent in Jerusalem.

Why does this lovely record seem destined for some kind of long cult life, and what is it doing in a column devoted to pop and jazz? It is the new volume of "Éthiopiques," an astounding series of folkloric and pop music from Ethiopia that doubtless draws more listeners from popular than classical music. But there's another reason, too. While the sound of this musician's pensive, repetitive drawing-room études owes something to Beethoven, Schumann and Debussy — although they are studded with little arpeggios special to Ethiopian music — there is a dusky, early-blues quality to much of it. If you've heard some jazz, you could think it was written by Mary Lou Williams or Duke Ellington in their own moments of making their own quiet, original drawing-room music. BEN RATLIFF

H in Addis (Heruy), Friday, 9 February 2007 13:59 (thirteen years ago) link

start with number 4
dig mulatu astatqé
that dude was the truth

Haikunym (Haikunym), Friday, 9 February 2007 14:17 (thirteen years ago) link

No no no fuck the instrumental stuff (j/k don't it's great, but still the vocal stuff is better) and get Volume 3 or Volume 13 and then work your way out from there.

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Friday, 9 February 2007 15:55 (thirteen years ago) link

Too late! I ordered Vol. 1 and 21 yesterday. I'll check out those others next...

Tyler W (tylerw), Friday, 9 February 2007 15:57 (thirteen years ago) link

yeah i sort of love all of the ethiopiques i've heard but as i've said before and will say again, vol. 8 is a rad intro (and has "hasabe"! - alayew mesfin is the fucking jam and i wish i could find more of his stuff), and vol. 9, the alemayehu eshete disc, is really one of my 50 favorite things ever. SO FUNKY, ROCKS SO HARD.

whatever i do, it's right (teenagequiet), Friday, 9 February 2007 15:58 (thirteen years ago) link

Gotta catch'em all!

is anyone anticipating the new Baaderonixx? (baaderonixx), Friday, 9 February 2007 15:59 (thirteen years ago) link

haha f'reals

whatever i do, it's right (teenagequiet), Friday, 9 February 2007 16:01 (thirteen years ago) link

ten years pass...


Ethiopiques S/D

Some talk on other Ethiopiques thread about Ethiopian church pianists as well

Girma Yifrashewa

Emahoy Tsegue Maryam Guebrou also mentioned there as well

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 19 April 2017 13:51 (three years ago) link

She's even more charming than I could imagine.

pavane to the darryl of strawberry (bendy), Wednesday, 19 April 2017 15:10 (three years ago) link

haha yeah ... and good to hear she's got a bunch of other recordings stockpiled.

tylerw, Wednesday, 19 April 2017 15:36 (three years ago) link

three years pass...


just sayin, Thursday, 31 December 2020 11:29 (three weeks ago) link

A very nice essay. First time I heard her, it felt like I'd known the music for a hundred years.

Citole Country (bendy), Saturday, 9 January 2021 19:05 (two weeks ago) link

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