Check out a new podcast compiled by Tommy T with music from his recent solo release The Prester John Sessions, plus favorites from his personal collection. Music includes artists like Aster Aweke, once dubbed "the Aretha Franklin of Ethiopia," Aswad and Michael Rose of Black Uhuru. Tommy concludes with a track from The Prester John Sessions, "Tribute to a King," dedicating the mix to The King of Ethiopian music, Dr. Tilahun Gesesse.
Posts Tagged: Prester John Sessions
Tommy T’s solo album ‘The Prester John Sessions’ is now available to buy in stores! Described as an “aural travelogue that ranges freely through the music and culture of Ethiopia”, the album features fellow GB members Eugene Hutz and Pedro Erazo. You can pick it up at all the usual places or order online at the Easy Star Records store.
If you’re in Santa Monica, CA tomorrow, head down to Zanzibar (1301 5th Street) for an exclusive listening party. Club night Afro Funke is a mix of Afrobeat, Brazilian, Dub, Reggae, Cumbia, Samba Disco, Batucada, Afro-Latin House, Indian Beats, Makossa & other deep-rooted Funk music from around the world. Playback of ‘The Prester John Sessions’ will start at 9pm and be accompanied by giveaways. Click here for more information.
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Tommy T’s The Prester John Sessions album is now available exclusively at iTunes. Click here to order it there. If you like it, please rate it highly and post a review.
You can also pre-order the album through the Easy Star webstore, along with an exclusive tee shirt. If you pre-order, you will still be able to download the album shortly (within days) so you won’t have to wait to hear it. Plus, you will be entered into a contest with a chance to win a backstage hang with Tommy at an upcoming Gogol Bordello show (along with other prizes).
For the past few years, Tommy T has been touring the world as the bass player of gypsy punk powerhouse Gogol Bordello. He was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, before moving to Washington, DC, and becoming an integral part of the celebrated Ethiopian musical scene there. In between tours with Gogol, Tommy, along with some other great Ethiopian musicians, recorded The Prester John Sessions. The resulting record is a mesmerizing excursion into the music and culture of Ethiopia, touching on Ethiopian funk, dub, roots and jazz. Plus, it has bonus remix featuring Eugene Hutz and Pedro Erazo from Gogol Bordello and mixed by Michael G of the Easy Star All-Stars. This record will be available exclusively on iTunes starting October 13, then released in full November 10, but you can pre-order your copy now by clicking the banner above.
* The first 100 CDs will be signed by Tommy T
* Don’t wait until the release date to hear it! Downloads of the album will be available to all customers starting October 13, regardless of whether you order a physical CD or a digital download.
* Chance to hang backstage at a Gogol Bordello show with Tommy!
Every order gets you a chance to win the following:
* 3 Grand Prizes: A pair of tickets to an upcoming Gogol Bordello show, along with a meet and greet by Tommy T and a chance to hang backstage. Winners also receive a complete set of Easy Star CDs (15 CDs total) and an Easy Star Records tee shirt.
* 3 Runners Up: 10 Easy Star Records CDs and an Easy Star Records tee shirt.
In addition, you can also pre-order a tee shirt designed around the striking cover art of this release. It’s available in a men’s tee or a women’s tee, so pick your style, and wear it proudly. When bought with a CD, it’s only $25 for the whole bundle.
In the lead-up to releasing his debut solo work (The Prester John Sessions, on sale exclusively via iTunes on October 13, with the wide release at traditional retail outlets everywhere on November 10), Tommy T has been interviewed by See Magazine, the Winnipeg Free Press and Uptown Magazine. Click the links to read the full articles!
An aural travelogue that ranges freely through the music and culture of Ethiopia, the album is a collection of 11 songs including a remix of the track “Oromo Dub (Cushitic Dub),” featuring Eugene and Pedro and mixed by Michael Goldwasser of the Easy Star All-Stars.
The Prester John Sessions will be released exclusively via iTunes on October 13, 2009, with the wide release at traditional retail outlets everywhere on November 10, 2009 via Easy Star Records.
“In the 70s, funk, wah-wah pedals, and jazz had a huge impact on Ethiopian music,” Tommy explains. “The Prester John Sessions will give people an idea about the musical diversity of Ethiopia, which includes influences and ideas borrowed from the sounds of the 70’s with the added bonus of up-to-date production values.”
Tommy discovered the story of Prester John in Graham Hancock’s book The Sign and the Seal. “Hancock was looking for the Biblical Ark of the Covenant,” Tommy says. “His quest led him around the world, from the Middle East to Europe and back to Ethiopia.” 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.”
To fulfill his vision, Tommy started digging through Ethiopian folk music, choosing melodies he could improvise on. He also wrote his own compositions based on traditional modes. “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 states. “I play with The Abyssinian Roots Collective on the album. They are sometimes known as The ARC, which coincidentally ties into the Ark of the Covenant and the Prester John story.”
Tommy composed and produced the music, along with his brother Henock, contributing to the tunes “Brothers” and “East-West Express.” The tracks were written at Tommy’s home studio, cut live in studios around Washington, DC, and overdubs were laid down in real time with a final mix by Victor Van Vugt (Nick Cave, Gogol Bordello) giving it the feel of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters jamming with Ethiopian godfathers The Imperial Bodyguard Orchestra. The music blends Ethiopian modes with dub reggae, funk, and jazz, for a sound that’s at once familiar and mysterious.
“We are extremely excited to be working with Tommy,” says Easy Star co-founder Lem Oppenheimer. “He’s made an incredible record. The way he integrates reggae and dub into Ethiopian music fits right into what we have been releasing for the past decade – music that expands on a reggae foundation, taking the genre in new directions.”
“I believe in music without boundaries,” Tommy says. “Music should be inclusive, not exclusive. People who love music know the best music is created without boundaries and limitations. The Prester John Sessions take that idea to the next level.”