Getatchew Mekuria & The Ex: Moa Anbessa

Getatchew Mekuria & The Ex: Moa Anbessa
(Terp, 2006)

What happens when free-minded Dutch anarcho-punks meet a 70-year-old Ethiopian jazz saxophonist? Well, in this case, pure magic; or as Terrie Ex calls it: “A tribute to the free spirit.”

The story goes that the members of The Ex were longtime fans of the Ethiopiques re-release of the 1972 album ‘The Negus of Ethiopian Sax,’ where the big sound and memorable vibrato of Getatchew Mekuria (1935-2016) caught their immediate attention. When the fabulous and open-minded punk veterans were about to celebrate their 25th anniversary in 2004, they had the wild idea of inviting Mekuria to the party. So, they went down to Addis Ababa, tracked him down and explained their story. Mekuria didn’t think twice. He joined the band for his first travels outside of Ethiopia, and he was on fire! The event was a massive success, and the combo agreed to record together.

Recorded partly in the studio and partly live, a number of traditional, mainly Ethiopian, songs were rearranged by The Ex and guests, including a horn section featuring Xavier Charles (Silent Block) and Brodie West (Deep Dark United), and Mekuria flexed his sax like there was no tomorrow. Titled Moa Anbessa, the result is completely dazzling: a fiery and joyous mix of funky Ethio-jazz and sharp, authoritative post-punk vibrating with soulful energy and warmth. So much more than your average “world fusion,” this is musical exchange at its very best. ‘Moa Anbessa’ is strongly recommended for all “free spirits” out there.

Put it on, don’t resist the urge to groove, dance or sing along.

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