Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

7

Hailu Mergia: Lala Belu

Jakob Baekgaard By

Sign in to view read count
Sometimes a story comes full circle in the most unexpected way. Ethiopian keyboard and accordion maestro, Hailu Mergia, has enjoyed a well-deserved renaissance with the reissues of his classic albums on Brian Shimkovitz' label Awesome Tapes from Africa: Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument: Shemonmuanaye, Tche Belew and Wede Harer Guzo.

However, Mergia has not been resting on his laurels. He has been on the road with his trio with drummer Tony Buck and bassist Mike Majkowski and has tested new material that now sees the light of day on Lala Belu. It is a fresh sound and a new beginning that still has ties to Mergia's original sound, but with an aesthetic that is closer to jazz than Mergia has been before.

Working in a trio format at first seems like a limitation considering the richness of the funky band sound on Tche Belew and Wede Harer Guzo, but is it turns out, the music on Lala Belu is perhaps the most complete and varied expression of Mergia's musicality. The opening track, "Tazita," is a fine example of the musical metamorphosis that Mergia is capable of. It starts out as a slow blues-shuffle with brushing organ and arabesque accordeon and there's a beautiful passage with bowed bass from Majkowski that suddenly gives way to an up-tempo section with freewheeling acoustic jazz and spacey synthesizer beeps. It all ends in an acoustic bass explosion and fusion-like soloing from Mergia. It's a nine minute plus composition of epic proportions, not only in terms of length, but also development and style.

The album also provides irresistible grooves like "Addis Nat" and the first single, "Gum Gum," with a delicious, swampy Ethiopian organ riff and tasty hi-hat playing from Tony Buck. It is easy to imagine how this trio can build up a party and the invitation to a singalong part also comes on the title track where Mergia chants to a groove that goes straight to the body. Like a true album, the music ends on a more reflective note with a lyrical solo piano piece from Mergia. Any pianist looking for inspiration should check out Mergia's use of the Ethiopian scales that create the same mesmerizing effect as heard in the music of Ethiopian pianist Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guébrou. It is a fitting way to end a wonderful album that shows Mergia at the top of his game.

Track Listing: Tizita; Addis Nat; Gum Gum; Anchihoye Lene; Lala Belu; Yefikir Engurguro.

Personnel: Hailu Mergia: keyboards, piano, organ, accordeon; Tony Buck: drums; Mike Majkowski: bass.

Title: Lala Belu | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Awesome Tapes From Africa

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Album Reviews
Read more articles
Lala Belu

Lala Belu

Awesome Tapes From Africa
2018

buy
Wede Harer Guzo

Wede Harer Guzo

Awesome Tapes From Africa
2016

buy
Tche Belew

Tche Belew

Awesome Tapes From Africa
2014

buy
 

Tche Belew

Unknown label
1977

buy
 

ዘራፌ

Unknown label
0

buy

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read In Between the Tumbling a Stillness Album Reviews
In Between the Tumbling a Stillness
By Karl Ackermann
February 20, 2019
Read Gary Album Reviews
Gary
By Dan McClenaghan
February 20, 2019
Read Perception Album Reviews
Perception
By Paul Rauch
February 20, 2019
Read I Love the Rhythm in a Riff Album Reviews
I Love the Rhythm in a Riff
By Mackenzie Horne
February 20, 2019
Read Head First Album Reviews
Head First
By Roger Farbey
February 20, 2019
Read New American Songbooks, Volume 2 Album Reviews
New American Songbooks, Volume 2
By Karl Ackermann
February 19, 2019
Read Live At JazzCase Album Reviews
Live At JazzCase
By Troy Dostert
February 19, 2019