Fri Sept. 22, 2023

Samuel Yirga & Afropia (ETH)

Mitiku Samuel Yirga: piano
Ketema Yirga: tenor saxophone
Tessema Zekarias Getahun: guitar
Biru Beniam Birhanu: guitar
Mussa Ashenafi Ali: bass
Biratu Mulugeta Geresu: drums

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Samuel Yirga is a rising star in the Ethiopian musical sky. The Ethiopian sky is dotted with countless stars, all vagabonding on the vast galaxies of Ethiopian jazz. We remember the Ethiopian percussionist and vibraphonist Mulatu Astatke, who was instrumental in the soundtrack of Jim Jarmusch's film Broken Flowers.

Samuel Yirga is still an unknown star in Austria, but in his immediate surroundings, in Addis Ababa, it is impossible to imagine the music scene without him. He has played with greats like Mahmoud Ahmed and Aster Aweke.

Yirga already gave a guest performance in Austria in 2019 and developed a very tight musical exchange project with the formation chuffDrone.

Ethiopia has a long jazz tradition that receives far too little attention internationally. Not least, the term Ethio-jazz, coined by Astatke, found its way into the musical history books. And Yirga is following in his footsteps on the piano, also making history as an ambassador of ethio-jazz.

He has performed for former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, he was keyboardist for Dub Collosus and he released his album "Guzo" on Peter Gabriel's Real World Records. His collaborations are diverse: via Susheela Raman, German pop stars Clueso and Max Herre, to rapper Megalo. Recently, he played with the world-famous tabla player Zakir Hussein. Sammy Yirga is a very adaptable musician with a sensorium for classical music, which he studied in Addis at Yared College.

Samuel Yirga's musical career has been something of a high road: social and family constraints mark his biography. Nevertheless, the talented pianist, who grew up in the capital of Ethiopia, went his way undeterred. He combined contemporary and classical jazz with pop songs from the golden age of Ethiopian music. Traditional rhythms with classical echoes opened the doors to festivals and the wide world of the music-interested public for him.