Getatchew Mekurya, Ethiopian jazz saxophonist, Died at 81

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Gétatchèw Mèkurya was born on March 14, 1935, and died on April 4, 2016.

He was an Ethiopian jazz saxophonist.

He started his musical studies on traditional Ethiopian instruments such as the krar and the masenqo, and later moved on to the saxophone and clarinet.

During his adolescence years, Mekurya began his professional career in 1949 as a part of the Municipality Band in Addis Ababa.

During 1955, Getatchew Mekurya joined the house band at Addis’ Haile Selassie I Theatre, and in 1965 joined the famous Police Orchestra.

Getatchew Mekurya was also one of the first musicians to record an instrumental version of shellela, a genre of traditional Ethiopian vocal music sung by warriors before going into battle.

He had taken the shellela tradition seriously, often appearing onstage in a warrior’s animal-skin tunic and lion’s mane headdress.

Getatchew Mekurya continued to refine his instrumental shellela style, recording an entire album in 1970, Negus of Ethiopian Sax, released on Philips Ethiopia during the heyday of the Ethiojazz movement.

And he continued to work alongside many of the biggest orchestras in the Ethiopian capital, accompanying renowned singers Alemayehu Eshete, Hirut Beqele, and Ayalew Mesfin.

Getatchew Mekurya passed away at 81 yrs old.

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