Leeds, England does not at first seem to be the epicenter of contemporary Ethiopian influenced jazz, but new band, The Sorcerers are beginning to create an authentic buzz with their take on probably the hippest of all sub genres.
With their self-titled debut released on local Leeds label ATA Records, The Sorcerers have created an absorbing, unique and quirky eight-track album that is full of rich ideas from across the musical spectrum, but it’s their obvious Ethio-Jazz references that the music press are mostly talking about.
Fluid organs, rhythmic brass parts and a driving percussion foundation provide a solid outlet for some well written and constructed groove heavy tracks, coupled with some nice flute touches on top and the instantly Ethio-Jazz-esque use of vibes – I would have actually liked greater use of vibes as they are only featured on certain tracks, but maybe that’s just me!
Being honest, it probably isn’t an album for the purists who want something with the integrity of a Mulatu Astatke release, the undoubtable king of Ethiopian Jazz, but those with a bit of a broad mind will truly love this album. I’ve already mentioned it amongst my circle of like-minded music fiends, geeks and nerds and no one has been disappointed, as it is very original. ‘The Horror’ takes its influence from, guess what, creaky, old organ horror film soundtracks, but it actually works. My personal favourite is ‘Night Of The Sorcerer’, which is a little more traditional sounding.
My only gripe is the short track count and running times, (although ‘Kasalefkut-Hulu’ and ‘Kulunmanqueleshi’, my favourite pieces from Mulatu’s 1972 masterpiece “Mulatu of Ethiopia” combined only clock-in at just over four and half minutes in length). Thankfully the album is available on vinyl – at the moment, and will surely be a short vinyl run and definitely one to collect.
My hope that this isn’t a one-off project and that the group can continue to grow and develop, as they may succeed in what Antibalas did for contemporary Afrobeat but for the Ethio-Jazz world.