With Strut’s tireless recent focus on Mulatu Astatke’s rich musical past, it was almost a relief earlier this year when the label unleashed a record of new material from the Ethio-jazz master. To be honest, the guy’s written music enough for two lifetimes – it would be easy for him to coast – but as the name suggests, Mulatu Steps Ahead sounds like nothing else in his discography. Featuring members of both The Heliocentrics and Either/Orchestra, Astatke seems to have found a way to more carefully balance all of his influences – jazz, Latin and Ethiopian – and give each a clear voice in the composition of his work. In doing so he’s created a spectacular album. –Matt Shea

MP3: Mulatu Astatke-“Green Africa”

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