For the 21st time, the city of Eberswalde, located 50 km in the north east of Berlin, invites to “Jazz in E”, a festival for contemporary music.
This year, the line-up is remarkable, with DiB darlings like Hailu Mergia, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids on the bill. A good opportunity to explore Berlin’s neighbourhood!
Hailu Mergia spends six days a week driving a cab to and from Dulles Airport in the US’ capitol Washington – he’s been driving a taxi for more than 10 years. Little of his customers are aware of the fact that the cabbie once was Ethiopia’s most popular keyboard player and leader of the legendary Walias Band (which, at times, also featured Mulatu Astatke).
The Walias Band’s much sought-after LP Tche Belew goes for thousands of dollars on Ebay and features the original version of the monstrous Muziqawi Silt – arguably the best known Ethiopian tune worldwide. In the early 1980es, some Walias Band members used an US-tour to escape the dictatorial Mengistu-regime; Mergia has been living in the DC area ever since then.
In 2013 Awesome Tapes From Africa re-issued a lesser known solo album, “Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument”: The 1985 recording is a fantastic effort featuring a host of old school synths, ghostly accordions and a lovely bit of cheap drum computers.
An almost unclassifiable mix of spare, bluesy vocals and powerful drumming – with some pop and jazz elements mixed in for good measure – Sweden’s Wildbirds & Peacedrums feature singer Mariam Wallentin and drummer Andreas Werliin.[vimeo 102507751 w=620&h=300]
The pair met in 2004 at Gothenburg’s Academy of Music and Drama but, frustrated at the institute’s rigid format, they began making music on their own the following year (and also got married).
After two excellent LPs, “Heartcore” and “Snake”, and two EPs, Wildbirds and Peacedrums returned in 2014 with their first record in four years; lean, hungry and defiant. In stripping back they have discovered an unblinking directness, a taut muscularity honed from years of intensive live performance. Wildbirds & Peacedrums have turned the screw.
The Pyramids met as students at Ohio’s legendary Antioch College where famous composer and jazz pianist Cecil Taylor was teaching as a visiting professor from 1971 – 73. Antioch was known for its liberal spirit and its source for activism and progressive political thought speaking of student protests, the New Left, the anti Vietnam War and Black Power movement.
Spending their senior year abroad (72-73), the young group composed of founding members Idris Ackamoor, Margaux Simmons, and Kimathi Asante soon embarked on an amazing cultural odyssey – a journey leading them first to Paris, then Amsterdam, and on to Africa.
They lived for nine months in Ethiopia, Kenya and Ghana, where they performed with the King’s Drummers of Tamale. They listened to music, played with local master musicians, and studied African culture. The Pyramids were one of the first African American creative music ensembles to explore the music of their ancestors in Africa, long before “world music” as a term came into fashion.
The Pyramids were part of a first wave of musicians that began to independently record, produce & release their albums. They released three records before disbanding in 1977: Lalibela (1973), King Of Kings (1974) followed by the seminal Birth/Speed/Merging LP (1976) which was recorded after the band had moved from Ohio to psychedelic San Francisco.
The Pyramids “live” on stage – what a deep mind expanding experience: On-stage theatricality mixing music, theatre and performance art. The band snakes through the audience while playing their instruments.
The audience instantly becomes an integral part of the performance. The Pyramids “live” is a high energy, extremely interactive, and expressionistic show. Mysterious, otherworldly and deep – like a magical ancient ritual.
13th May / 20:00 CET
14th May / 20:00 CET
Hailu Mergia & Sofia Jernberg
Wildbirds & Peacedrums
15th May / 20:00 CET
Tenors of Kalma
Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids
16th May / 10:30 CET
Jazz in E w/ Hailu Mergia, The Pyramids, Wildbirds & Peacedrums and many more
Wednesday, 13th May – Saturday, 16th May 2015
Paul-Wunderlich-Haus | Am Markt 1 | 16225 Eberswalde