The Prester John Sessions - Tommy T
If the Middle East is the bread basket of humanity, Ethiopia is the cradle. Even evolutionists and creationists can agree that humankind’s first steps were taken here, either as Lucy the Australopithecus afarensis, or as Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It has been home to both mighty kingdoms in ancient times and untold suffering and conflict in modern times. But, one thing’s for sure, Ethiopia has had a great deal of time to develop some of the richest cultural treasures in the world, among them its diversity of musical rhythms, explored on The Prester John Sessions, the recording debut by Gogol Bordello bassist Tommy T. Tommy was born and raised in Addis Ababa. “"A lot of popular Ethiopian music is based on a 6/8 beat called chikchika, but there are also many other rhythms in Ethiopia that have their own unique characteristics," Tommy explains. Aside from being a funky, dubby treat for global music fans, The Prester John Sessions should be compulsory listening for any rhythm section. The odd cadences move in circular waves, entrancing while baffling foot tappers and hand clappers. The album pays homage to the 70’s style grooves and tones that were hugely influential on today’s Ethiopian music, but the disc’s muse, Prester John harkens much further back in history. Tommy recaps, " In the 12th and 13th centuries, Prester John was an unknown Christian king with massive troops that got the attention of European kings. Prester John is the character I use to symbolize the man who will bring Ethiopian culture to the rest of the world." The Prester John Sessions would make a laudable introduction for most of us.