Getatchew Mekuria & The Ex


An extra special face-off brimming with wild party energy in which saxophone-wielding king of Ethiopian jazz soul Getatchew Mekuria meets Dutch post-punk legends The Ex and a cast of special guests in a 10-strong big band. Together they present a set of classic “Swinging Addis” standards like you’ve never heard them, performed with all their lyrical musicality intact, but rocket-launched skywards with a rare and raw transcultural fire.


The Ex & Getatchew Mekuria live at Festival Druga


Each an elemental force in their own right, together these two breath deep and go for the jugular, resulting in a furious/joyous collision of musical colours that swings, rips and skronks like nothing else and has caused dancefloor combustion across the globe… be it at an urban sweatbox like Rich Mix, a worldly festival stage or an Addis Abeba university hall.


Getatchew Mekuria is the most revered veteran of the Ethiopian saxophone - a physical and musical giant whose “Negus of Ethiopian Sax” album featured in the acclaimed “Ethiopiques” reissue series. Now 76 years old, he has collaborated with all the great Ethiopian singers over the years and is still in full voice with his own, powerfully distinctive style of playing. His huge vibrato, both forceful and fragile, plays around the vocal lines, using typical Ethiopian embellishments. He dons a lion’s mane when he plays and cuts loose with furious solos that come over like a kind of free jazz from before free jazz existed.


Since 1979, Amsterdam’s The Ex have consistently pushed the envelope, plotting a restless course from their anarchist punk origins to embrace everything sound could throw at them. Their thrillingly raw and rhythmic rock sound is born from their ideals, musical friendships/networks and work ethic. They are one of the most visceral rock units in action today.


Ever hungry to place themselves in unfamiliar contexts, The Ex toured Ethiopia twice and fell in love with its music, which led to them inviting Getatchew to perform at their 25th anniversary party in Holland. His contribution to proceedings blasted everyone off stage, and, suitably inspired, The Ex invited him on tour with them, their incendiary live collaboration bearing fruits in a blistering album released on the band’s Terp Records imprint in 2006.


Tonight they play music from that album, plus fresh pieces from a brand new record due for release next year.


Press quotes:

“Not only is Mekuria’s sax playing pure vibrato-heavy perfection, but when The Ex delve into noise guitar breakdowns and drummer Katherina Bornefeld takes over singing duties we’re into some otherworldly awesomeness … incredibly uplifting” – Eye Weekly


"An Ex show is a shared experience, they take the audience on a musical adventure to places no one has been before. They are the most interesting musical unit in the world today...Go and see the Ex and you will hear rhythms you have never heard before...a sweaty seething party, an uplifting, joyful celebration. They have brilliantly proved that playing music with this sense of wild-eyed fun and radical political edge and this adherence to all that was good and great about the positive politic of the punk and post punk period can actually fucking work" – The Quietus


Support comes from London’s very own Krar Collective, dubbed “the White Stripes of Ethiopian music” for their minimal, gritty take on traditional take on traditional music from their homeland, and East London’s global music hero DJ Russ Jones aka The Hackney Globe Trotter with his collection of rare Ethiopian and African grooves.


Ethiopian food will be available.

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