November 5, 2023, 5:10 p.m
After 30 years, Ethiopian accordionist, organist, composer and arranger Hailu Mergia presents a new album: “Lala Bello”, in a trio with Australian musicians Mike Majkowski, bass, and Tony Buck, on drums. The album sounds so full of life, full of accordion solos and containing wonderful organ pieces in its repertoire, it is as if Hailu Mergia has never left the stage.
But from the beginning: just a few years ago, Hailo Mergia wasn’t even on the musical map. He was driving his taxi through the streets of Washington, D.C.; Most of his passengers didn’t even know he was a star on the Ethiopian jazz scene: Hailu Mergia was once the keyboardist in the band Walias, whose legendary 1977 number “Muzikawi Selt” is part of modern Ethiopian music. date.
The Walias split in the early 1980s after a trip to the United States. Hailu Mergia stayed there. It was not until 2013 that reissues of his albums appeared in US record stores. The first, “Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument: Shemonmuanaye,” originally recorded in Washington in 1985, after the Walias disbanded, is a remarkable work for a one-man band. Then came two exciting remakes from Hailu Mergia’s years in Ethiopia: “Che Beleu” and “Wade Harer Gozo.”
Hailu Mergia has never stopped making and composing music. “Since I’ve been back in the music business, I’ve really enjoyed it every time,” he says.
(Recurring as of September 16, 2018)