Samuel Yirga – Guzo (2012)
Samuel Yirga is a Jazz pianist born in Addis Adiba, Ethiopia.
Tiwista (Tinish Mix) starts with a more Ethio-jazz feel, lots of movement, heavy emphasis on the rhythm section, but once the piano comes in, ends up with cascading melodies. My Head follows a similar theme, with glorious sax. Ferma Ena Wereket starts with a big bold head, before moving on through some distinctively Middle Eastern/Eastern Africa rhythms and even elements of honky-tonk piano. And this international influence is a theme: despite coming from Ethiopia, home to a great Jazz tradition, the structure and overall sound are very much more global than that. This is a guy who knows his Jazz history.
Yeh Bati Koyita and Drop Me There are sorrowful solo piano pieces played with real emotion, a real pure and honest sound.
Nou Se Soleil and I Am the Black Gold of the Sun change pace completely, with the introduction of the Creole Choir of Cuba (who incidently have a relatively new album that I will review on a future date); although these are great tracks, they do feel slightly out of place amongst the rest of the album, but that is a very minor quibble.
This is at the same time a Ethio-Jazz record and a more Western Jazz album; understand that instead of detracting from the soul of the album, it instead adds interest, a more varied canvas and it is joyous.
Yirga shows remarkable maturity on Guzo that betray his 20-something years and has, here, produced a great debut.
Favourite tracks: Firma Ena Wereket, My Head, Tiwista (Tinish Mix)
Spotify link: Samuel Yirga – Guzo