Most contemporary Ethiopian music draws heavily on traditional Egypt’s Coptic modes and melodies, so much so that telling the difference between traditional (bahalawi) and modern (zemenawi) musicians isn’t always easy. For example, one of the most prominent Ethiopian music styles is ETHIO-JAZZ, which arose in the 1960s after Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke fell in love with American jazz while studying and traveling in the West. Returning to Ethiopia, he blended ancient Ethiopian scales with syncopated jazz rhythms. Astatke (read an interview with him here) has long been a legend in the Ethiopian jazz world, but found international fame most recently when his song “Yekermo Sew” appeared in the soundtrack of the Jim Jarmusch movie, “Broken Flowers.” Take a look at Astatke and his band performing “Yagelle Tezeta” live. You may also enjoy Alemayehu Eshete, known as the “Ethiopian Elvis.” You can see Eshete here with his band of “ferenje” [foreigners].)

More info: NPR on Ethio-Jazz.

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