The Economist has a great little story on the revival of local jazz–including musicians like Mulatu Astatke (in the video above with the Heliocentrics in London)–a tradition that dates back to the 1920s when “…  when Armenian orphans from the massacres in Turkey were adopted by Ethiopia’s imperial court and formed a band called Arba Lijoch, meaning Forty Children. Other big bands followed suit. “The Addis swing” caught on. By the dying days of Haile Selassie’s reign, in the early 1970s, musicians were fusing jazz and funk with more traditional Ethiopian tunes to create a distinctive Ethio-jazz. After the grim Marxist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam took over in 1974, Ethio-jazz soon died, along with much else. The communists were suspicious of free-form jazz. Many players and fans were killed or fled, mostly to America. Hotel bands were replaced with drab synthesisers.”

Read it here.