It is an improbable story: one that reunites, a group of young Parisians with the Swingin’ Addis sounds of the seventies. In October 2008, five musicians got together on a wild project: to delve into the repertoire of the Ethiopian golden age, as defined by the producer Francis Falceto, to whom we owe the series of reissues “Ethiopiques”. “The idea was to transcribe songs from this period and rearrange them to the sound of our times. First off, it eliminated the need to write songs that risked falling into ethio-jazz clichés.
The aim was not to bring about some artistic revolution through our work but simply to give and take pleasure by performing this music!” Through this retro-futuristic alchemy, the Akalé Wubé quintet was born: a curious name borrowed from a song by the great saxophonist Getatchew Mekurya, a bit of an old-fashioned expression which can by translated as “my beautiful” in Amharic, a poetic metaphor which also means “beauty of the soul”.
“Since our very first concert in December 2008 we were surprised by the audience’s enthusiasm.” Since then, Akalé Wubé have played more than forty concerts, including a residency at the Lavoir Moderne Parisien and a tour around Morocco. A year later, they were finally ready to record their debut album. It took them four live sessions in the famous “Cold Rooms” on the bank of the river Seine, in order to capture the warmth and fervor of an acoustic and organic sound.
The result is a retro sound which resounds perfectly with the contemporary aesthetic of a generation of musicians that juggle genres around. Funk, reggae, jazz, tango… “All of this is found in the vocabulary and aesthetic of the ethiopian productions of the sixties and seventies. It is a cross-bred style of music – so much so, that even by sticking to the repertoire, it can be taken in different directions…” A mix of stripped-down funk soul and smart pop, of garage rock and vintage jazz, this spatiotemporal collision offers them the ideal platform to establish a solid base in 2010. The objective: transcend all genres and swing the future in the most quirky of ways. This is the attracting force of their record: a UFO which targets above all to deliver good vibes at any tempo, and move you from head to toe.
Akalé Wubé is a Parisian band devoted totally to the grooves of 60s and 70s Ethiopian music. Since their beginnings in 2009, Akalé Wubé have been exploring passionately and meticulously the musical goldmine of Swingin’ Addis, which they discovered through the “Ethiopiques” compilation curated by Buda Music.
After years of absorbing this unique genre, working on a sound of their own through adventurous arrangements and original compositions; after numerous collaborations, two albums, over two hundred concerts and a Ethiopian trip, Akalé Wubé today propose their personal and powerful version of a fantastic Ethiopia.
The band excels in building bridges between Ethio-jazz and 70s West-African music (afrobeat), Jamaica (reggae), and even still the New York contemporary scene in the years 2010; a rich melting pot with an obsessively clear direction: communicating to the feet before the mind, a thing sometimes called groove, swing, or even “jawa jawa” in Amharique…