Recorded with the House band of Addis Ababa`s Ghion Hotel over three afternoons (between shows) in 1978, “Wede Harer Guzo” captures a collective joy in playing that is immediate, and a Jazz.
Jass, Jasz, Jazz came from New Orleans; from the jasmine scent favoured by the city`s prostitutes; from “jezebel”; from a synonym for sexual intercourse. Jazz was procreation. Jazz was a dance music derived from the Blues designed to inspire this activity. The Blues came from Africa, not born on slave ships, but travelling with them, to became spirituals, defiant celebrations of home. No surprise then that much of this rescued recording (a true “lost tape”, with only one known copy remaining, from which the set was restored) by Hailu Mergia & Dahlak Band bears great similarity to the sound of America`s segregated Deep South, of Muscle Shoals` Fame Studios, of Stax. The melodies from Ethiopia ache with Otis` lover`s prayers and the guitars seem to want to sing “I Would Rather Go Blind”. The two musics inextricably linked. The songs sung in harmony like hymns. The virtuoso keys combining the signatures of both Ray Charles and Booker T. The guitar lick between Highlife and Country.