Thursday, September 11, 2014

Girma Yifrashewa, Love & Peace

We go through life and every so often we are surprised, pleasantly so, to experience something we didn't expect. That's the case for me with Ethiopian pianist-composer Girma Yifrashewa and his album Love & Peace (Unseen Worlds 13). This is an album of compositions for solo piano, played by the composer.

What's striking for starters is how Yifrashewa uses Ethiopian minor and pentatonic modes in the service of a hauntingly atmospheric, at times almost Satie-esque introspection. Then there are more rollicking numbers, too. But all reflects a classical poise and the vibrant Ethiopian sense of tonal form, something which if we had a time machine we would see goes back many centuries, I suspect.

You might say that Girma Yifrashewa does for Ethiopian music what Abdullah Ibrahim did for the music of South Africa. That is, he puts the essence of his home music into a very pianistic set of expressions. Only perhaps here the music is less obviously jazz-influenced, more classically oriented. But only in degree. One can certainly imagine jazz musicians doing versions of this music with authentic success. But that's for another time, perhaps.

For now we have this very attractive set of piano pieces that rings out true and clear! I love it. You may too.

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