When: Fri., Dec. 20, 8 p.m. and Sat., Dec. 21, 8 p.m. 2019
Mulatu Astatke was supposed to be an engineer. The now-73-year-old Ethiopian musician was sent to Wales in the late ’50s for his studies. But while there, he learned a lot about music, particularly jazz. He jammed with musicians and ended up studying at Trinity College in London and later at Berklee College in Boston. When he got to the United States, a new sound intrigued him: Latin-jazz, which was prominent in New York in the ’60s. Astatke made his first recordings in New York. In the ’70s, upon returning to Ethiopia, he changed the very fabric of music in his home county. Taking the influences from his travels and combining it with the traditional music of Ethiopia, he coined a new genre called Ethio-jazz. His early ’70s Ethio-jazz recordings remain intoxicating in how they float between genre and nationality. He continues to redefine music on his terms to this day.