Mulatu Astatke’s 22 January concert was another sold-out Sydney Festival show in the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent that did not disappoint. Mulatu Astatke, the highly regarded and equally talented father of Ethio-jazz returned for another show in Sydney together with the magnificent Black Jesus Experience hailing from Melbourne.
Mulatu Astatke is an infectious character with such a warm and humbling presence; the room can only smile while watching him with his laid back persona. Not only a composer, Mulatu Astatke performs using a variety of instruments, namely vintage keyboards, a vibraphone as well as an organ and congas.
The crowd spilled into the famous Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent in rapid succession. Soon after, the 75 year old broke out into the sultry and sexy opening track, “Yekermo Sew”, from the soundtrack for Jim Jarmusch’s “Broken Flowers”, only to be greeted to a room of smiles and adoration for Astatke’s exquisite composition.
Honourable mentions go to Peter Harper on the saxophone & Ian Dixon on the trumpet for their incredible solos, which ensured the crowd erupted into applause again. Lastly, but certainly not least, Enushu Taye is unquestionably a key performer to the entourage with her unforgettably hypnotic voice that lingers in your ears and mind long after the show.
The show was MCed by Mr Monk, from the Black Jesus Experience. While his presence is a strong one, at times it felt like it was leaning on the unnecessary side, being a little too powerful and not symbiotic with the remainder of the performers. However, this is not at all to deny his talents in any way.
Overall, Mulatu Astatke and the Black Jesus Experience was a real treat and the only downside was having swollen hands from all the clapping. We hope that Mulatu Astatke returns to our shores to delight us again soon.
Matilda Marseillaise was a guest of Sydney Festival