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Hailu Mergia & Dahlak Band Wede Harer Guzo Awesome Tapes from Africa

Wede Harer Guzo will sit nicely as an offshoot for listeners familiar with the prolific age of Ethiopian Jazz from the 70s. Hailu Mergia was a frequent collaborator with godfather Mulatu Astatke and a member of seminal jazz and funk outfit Walias Band. This album, put together at the upmarket Ghion Hotel in Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa, was Mergia’s opportunity to delve deeper into more experimental arrangements. It is full of atmospheric instrumentals and hushed delicacies, swerving popular tropes of funk and RnB.

By collaborating with the Dahlak band – who at the time of recording were the in-house outfit for the swanky hotel and nightspot – Wede Harer Guzo exudes a kind of youthful sophistication. Tracks like Anchin Kfu Ayinkash and Minlbelesh paint a vivid picture of diplomats and visitors arriving in Addis Ababa, soaking up the city’s variations on popular music that were so ubiquitous in this decade. Blissfully carefree instrumentals, which flourish in the background, then effortlessly ease into focus. Credit is due to Coast Mastering for the renovation of these sounds. The tracks are presented with enough warm fuzz to make them feel authentic, but not so much that the record is treated as a kind of museum piece.

The idea of these recordings fading away into obscurity forever is tragic, and it’s good to know that, with a worldwide release on Awesome Tapes, Wede Harer Guzo will attract the late-night listeners it deserves.