Getatchew Mekurya, a saxophonist with an ardent, full-throated style who worked predominantly in Ethiopia for decades before being embraced by a worldwide audience, died on April 4 in Addis Ababa. He was 81.
The cause was an infection in his legs as a result of diabetes, said Terrie Hessels, a founding member of the Dutch punk band the Ex, which toured and recorded with Mr. Mekurya over the last dozen years, fueling his late-career renaissance.
Mr. Mekurya (his name is pronounced GET-a-chew Me-KUR-ya) had an imposing sound and presence, blowing in declamatory gusts with a fervent, quavering vibrato. He found renown outside his native country after one of his albums from the early 1970s, “Negus of Ethiopian Sax,” was released on CD in 2003 as part of the popular world-music reissue series “Éthiopiques.”
His rediscovery led to collaborations with musicians from far beyond his home turf, including the saxophonist Russ Gershon and his band, the Either/Orchestra, from Cambridge, Mass. The Ex sought out Mr. Mekurya and invited him to a festival in Amsterdam, where they struck an energetic rapport. They released a collaborative album, “Moa Anbessa,” in 2006.
Source: NY Times
That album, which set Mr. Mekurya’s fervent cry against churning guitars and bleating horns, led to a spate of concert bookings in more than a dozen countries. A potent follow-up, “Y’Anbessaw Tezeta,” was released in 2012, capturing Mr. Mekurya’s road-tested bond with the Ex and bringing vibrant new life to compositions he had originally recorded 40 years earlier.