I land in Amsterdam on the 4th of July to start work the Getachew Mekuria and the Ex & Friends. As seems to be usual, there’s always something to do when Terrie Hessels picks me up at the airport and this case is no exception- Han Bennink has a duo concert at Zaal 100 with Peter Evans. The performance by Bennink was absolutely brilliant, he used only a snare and percussion objects pulled from a small suitcase (including a windup metronome that he used with fine affect in the middle of one of the improvisations, it ticking and tocking until dying out out under one of Evans’ trumpet solos), pounding counter-rhythms with his shoes on the wood floor; everything Bennink did made Evans’ playing sound extraordinary- amazing gig with Melaku Belay and his brother joining in to dance during part of the performance.
On the 5th the 1st rehearsal with Getachew takes place, band includes the Ex (Andy, Arnold, Kat, Terrie), Jost Buis, Xavier Charles, Brody West, and myself; the rehearsal goes extremely well, most details remembered from the concerts that took place in December, adding Jost and Xavier who know the material cold helps a great deal, the horn section sounds HUGE. The new Getachew album, “Y’Anbessaw Tezeta,” arrives the same day and we listen to it in Terrie’s backyard, Getachew extremely happy- the music sounds beautiful; Arnold, Andy, and Terrie did a remarkable job with all the necessary work editing and mixing the material. The most extraordinary piece is perhaps the 1st cut, “Ambassel”: basic tracks recorded in December, clarinet parts recorded in April (both near Amsterdam), a new tenor solo by Getachew recorded at Fendeka in Addis during May, the original clarinet solo by Getachew taken from his classic version of the piece, recorded in Ethiopia decades ago. Somehow, the way it all comes together sounds completely organic and powerful. It was an honor to be a part of this session, perhaps the last that will be made by Getachew Mekuria in his life, and I’m totally psyched to be able to go out on tour with this group of musicians. Info on the new album with Getachew:
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