DEE ALEXANDER / HAMID DRAKE / MICHAEL ZERANG
DEE ALEXANDER. voice, vocals
HAMID DRAKE. MICHAEL ZERANG. drums and percussions
Drake and Zerang: two peddlers of rhythms and tumults through the mirrors and worlds of jazz and improvised music. Drake is known as one of the best frame drums players and dumbek holds no secret to Zerang. One has an Afro-American family originating from the Mississippi valley; the other has an Assyrian family from the Tigris and Euphrates valley.
From one man or one river to another, the watershed crosses everything under the sun. Eleven years after their first trip to Sons d'hiver, they invite the divine Dee Alexander, a perfect blend of Dinah Washington's clear intonation and smooth flexions, Ella Fitzgerald's grinding and buoyancy and Nina Simone's dark passion. And she sure knows as many bird songs as the duo knows drum chants.
MULATU ASTATKÉ. compositions, direction, vibraphone, wurlitzer, percussions
STEP AHEAD BAND : JAMES ARBEN. saxophone, flûte, clarinette basse
BYRON WALLEN. trompette / DANNY KEANE. violoncelle
ALEXANDER HAWKINS. piano, claviers / JOHN EDWARDS. basse RICHARD OLATUNDE BAKER. percussions / TOM SKINNER. batterie
Few men can claim they have been acclaimed by both Duke Ellington and Jim Jarmusch. Accepting traditional Ethiopian music contribution as well as Afro-Cuban, Jazz and Funk influences, Mulatu Astatké invented Ethio-jazz in the mid-seventies. Even on the vibraphone, his playing happily shows its two ways: marimba's African percussions meet the unique liveliness of a Bobby Hutcherson.
Surrounded by a group of improvisers from London specialized in slow and sensual drifting, Mulatu Astatké creates a popular though complex music, fascinating result of a musical syncretism that builds a bridge between several key places of the world. It's as if his knowledge of the plateau of Ethiopia (he was born in Jimma, south west of Oromia) allowed him to incorporate the world dynamics of sources and cultural resources with his eyes and ears. Fascinating.