Thursday, October 11, 2012

CD Review: Samuel Yirga's 'Guzo'

Samuel Yirga
Real World

Samuel Yirga's Ethiojazz renderings are thought-provoking, instrumental, and vocally-strong. The musical traditions of Ethiopia--notably, the jazz epicenter of Addis Ababa--is the central focal point for the creative output of Samuel Yirga. The title, which means 'journey' in Amharic, is poignant and fitting for a release with so many influences. The jazzy, downtempo leanings of "Abet Abet," are contemporary and futuristic with a nice dose of improvisation and classic percussion. The piano is a featured instrument on many of the songs, especially on "Tiwista." There are a few guest appearances by the infamous Creole Choir of Cuba on "Nou Se Soleil" and "I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun." The Haitian and Caribbean influences are most pronounced on the aforementioned tracks. Though, an element of American jazz and funk is evident throughout the album, Samuel creates evocative compositions that move in many directions, but all roads lead to something amazing. The cinematic wanderings of  "Ye Bati Koyita" bring to mind the piano compositions of Thomas Newman. Some of the tracks focus more heavily on piano, which may not be as exciting as the other instruments. Nevertheless, Samuel produces a fine recording with multiple influences and styles to keep everyone very happy for a very long time. ~ Matthew Forss

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