Probably the most revered veteran of Ethiopian saxophone, Gétatchèw Mèkurya is the inventor of an extremely distinctive musical 'style'. There exists, among Ethiopia's many vocal genres, a form of singing that is purely warlike: epic and declamatory, harsh and hoarse-voiced, it is known as "shellèla". Gétatchèw Mèkurya had the brilliant idea of transposing it to his saxophone. In this daring, improvisational, angry and impetuous musical form, each melisma spirals dizzyingly towards less structure and greater freedom in the playing. Without resorting to clichés, shellèla saxophone was a sort of free jazz before its time: Mèkurya, who remembers trying out the first heady strains in 1952-53, still knows nothing about Ornette Coleman, or Albert Ayler.
The music on this CD was released by Philips Ethiopia in 1970, except for the last piece, a rarity from the late fifties.