Following his acclaimed collaboration on Strut with The Heliocentrics, the Father of Ethio jazz presents his brand new studio album, 'Mulatu Steps Ahead' for 2010. The album explores new directions in fusions of Western jazz with Ethiopian modes, moving forward the pioneering sound Mulatu developed during the '60s and '70s, showcased on the recent Strut compilation 'New York * Addis * London'. For the new album, tracks were recorded with members of Either/Orchestra in Boston, with contributions by traditional Ethiopian musicians in Addis, members of The Heliocentrics and some of the UK's leading jazz and African players during the final sessions in London in November 2009.
Each track on the album tells its own story. The reflective, meandering opener, Radcliffe, was composed specifically for the Radcliffe Institute during Mulatu's time lecturing at Harvard in Boston - the original score is now framed on the wall there. The Way To Nice was written and arranged on the tour bus during Mulatu's recent French dates - "with this track, you are travelling on a long journey, talking and thinking" explains Mulatu. "It was inspired by the many beautiful places on the coast road around Nice." Assosa adapts traditional music from the Assosa tribes in North-Western Ethiopia and Mulatu's Mood re-works a Mulatu jazz fusion composition from the early '90s into a new swinging Afro highlife arrangement. "I wanted to use West African styles within this version and try new ways of using the beautiful sound of the kora." Boogaloo and I Faram Gami I Faram reprise Mulatu classics with new, fuller scores and bonus digital track Derashe highlights the traditional diminishing scales of the Derashe people of Southern Ethiopia, a musical technique that would later feature in the classical compositions of Debussy and the jazz of Charlie Parker. "Many debate how this music developed but the Derashe have played these scales for centuries. It is an untold story."