Words: Drew Millard
Mochilla Presents Timeless: Mulatu Astake, Suite For Ma Dukes, and Arthur Verocai
DVDs of ‘great’ concerts can be the musical equivalent of eating heads of raw broccoli – you know they’re good for you so you keep at them, but at the same time it’s hard to slog through them. This three-disc box set manages to avoid many of these pratfalls, and besides, if you’re intrigued by the sound of this set, then you have no qualms with this particular brand of musical broccoli.
Disc one centers around Mulatu Astake, the progenitor of Ethio-Jazz, performing with a who’s who of the LA jazz scene. The liveliest disc of the bunch, it offers the pleasure of watching Astake lead his one-off combo through a shit-hot Ethio-Jazz workout.
Disc two is ‘A Suite For Ma Dukes,’ an orchestral showcase of J Dilla beats as arranged by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. His ‘Suite’ takes a while to heat up, but once the orchestra begins to serve as essentially a backing band for special guests Talib Kweli, Dwele, and Posdnuos of De La Soul, it becomes riveting.
A rare treat, disc three features Tropicalia legend Arthur Verocai’s legendary eponymous 1972 album being performed for the first time in the known universe. It’s a spellbinding exercise in intricate, delicate Brazilian soul, the power of which sticks with the view long after the concert’s seventy-two minutes are up.
Filmed in expressive black-and-white, these discs regrettably include minimal special features, though there are full-colour slideshows of the performances that serve primarily to belie Atwood-Fergueson’s abhorrent taste in suits.
Anyway, this limited edition of four thousand is aimed squarely at Stones Throw heads, aficionados of dusty world-funk, and those who love them. Snag one quick if these labels apply to you.