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Mulatu Astatke

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Mulatu Astatke (born on December 19, 1943; surname sometimes spelled Astatqé on French-language releases: Mulatu Astatqé) is an Ethiopian musician and arranger best known as the father of .

Born in the western Ethiopian city of Jimma, Mulatu was musically trained in London, New York City, and Boston where he combined his jazz and Latin music interests with traditional Ethiopian music. Astatke led his band while playing vibraphone and conga drums—instruments that he introduced into Ethiopian popular music—as well as other percussion instruments, keyboards and organ. His albums focus primarily on instrumental music, and Astatke appears on all three known albums of instrumentals that were released during Ethiopia’s Golden ’70s.

Astatke’s family sent the young Mulatu to study engineering in Wales during the late 1950s. Instead, he earned a degree in music through studies at the Welsh Lindisfarne College and then Trinity College of Music in London. In the 1960s, Astatke moved to the United States, where he became the first African student to enroll at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, where he studied vibraphone and percussion.

While living in the US, Astatke became interested in Latin jazz and recorded his first two albums, Afro-Latin Soul, Volumes 1 & 2, in New York City in 1966.

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