Ethiopian jazz sensation Hailu Mergia is back with Yene Mircha (“My Choice”), his latest release on ‘Awesome Tapes From Africa.’
The follow up to the highly praised Lala Belu Mergia’s was always going to be a tough ask, but Mergia has responded with what can only be described as a delight for the eardrums. Mergia is accompanied by Alemseged Kebede (bass) and Ken Joseph (drums), members of his touring band who together set the foundations for the album. These firm foundations are only strengthened by a whole host of collaborators throughout, including Setegn Atenaw, Tsehay Kassa and legendary saxophone player Moges Habte (formerly of Hailu’s jazz funk collective The Walias Band).
The six tracks are a mixture of songs written by Hailu himself and re-works of tracks by other Ethiopian musicians (such as “Shemendefer,” a synth ballad by Ethiopian pop artist Teddy Afro). Instruments of yesteryear, such as the accordion and masenqo, are given new life in this release and offer a refreshing take on his unique style of Ethio-jazz. Rich basslines, crisp drums and small yet effective guitar licks all over the record meld with Hailu’s signature keyboard to keep you listening throughout. Mergia is not afraid to experiment with the ever evolving nature of his sound (as his live shows have aptly demonstrated) and the record definitely incorporates more of a jazz-fusion sound than that which has been found on his previous releases. This is not a criticism however, and in tandem with his new collaborators, leads Mergia towards a a wider, more diverse sound than that of Lala Belu.
We all need distractions to get us through this period of isolation and if you’re looking for something a bit different Yene Mircha could be the perfect record for you. Give it a listen and let us know what you think through our social media accounts!
Yene Mircha out now and available to purchase HERE.