Review in this months Rhythms magazine

RHYTHMS MAGAZINE MAY JUNE 2015 – Tony Hillier

Ethiopian jazz and soul from the ‘60s and ’70s has cast a spell in Oz-jazz circles. Sydney’s Mister
OTT is among a handful of excellent local combos exhibiting a strong Ethiojazz influence
cultivated by musicians such as Mulatu Astatke and Getatchew Mekurya, and French producer
Francis Falceto’s seminal Ethiopiques CD series. The debut album of Kiwi expat saxophonist/
flautist Matthew Ottignon’s band – inspired by an Ethiopian tour with singer Dereb Desalegn –
marries the mesmerising eastern-sounding pentatonic scale, distinctive phrasing and trance-like
rhythms of Ethiojazz with groove-laden retro funk and mainstream jazz playing. In Drop It Like It’s Ott, chunky sax solos, often in tandem with trumpet and Farfisa organ swells, swirl on a recording lent authenticity by analogue studio gear. The bright and breezy ‘Gonder’ is a harbinger of what’s to come. A dialogue between upper register trumpet and lower register baritone sax highlights the equally jaunty ‘Take It Higher’. Wah-wah guitar and bass lay down wicked funk rhythm for the horns in ‘Mattaraja’. Distorted axe solos grind in that track and ‘Shalimar The Clown’. Built on a standard Latin groove, ‘Shererit’ and the preceding ‘Octopussy’ include conga solos. ‘Jellyfish’ and set standout ‘Tana Lake Part 2’, which follows a short-but-sweet piano prelude, are comparative slow-burners. Tony Hillier

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