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Samuel Yirga’s Guzo

July 30, 2012 Leave a comment

‘Guzo’ is the first solo outing by the young Ethiopian pianist Samuel Yirga, who is still in his 20s. Introduced to wider international audiences through his playing with Ethio-fusion group Dub Colossus, Sammy is now exploring new directions as a solo artist.
Reviewing his album for the Quietus, an online music magazine, the UK-based Russell Slater, a journalist specializing in writing about music, reveals his ambivalence towards the album.

I feel conflicted about the debut album from Ethiopia’s Samuel Yirga. On one hand this is obviously a talented young musician at the start of his career, looking to build upon his cameo role within the world fusion group Dub Colossus by stretching out his piano and compositional skills here on Guzo. On the other hand it all feels too convoluted, as if someone has heard this guy play piano, recongised that he’s as adept at both Ethiopian melodies and Western jazz noodling, and realised this could be the point where Ethiopian music can truly cross over into the world music crowd. Essentially this is Ethiopian music for people who can’t take the raw, spontaneous bluster of the Éthiopiques series; people who can’t truly get into world music unless there’s a roll of brushes on the toms, plaintive piano notes sprinkled here and there, a double bass lazily playing scales in the background. Surely there is a genre of music in this world that doesn’t need to be fused with jazz? Read more…

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