Udin&Jazz – Interview with Mulatu Astatke

On July, 7th, 2017, we had the chance to have an absolutely inspiring talk with the father of “Ethio-Jazz”: Mulatu Astatke.
If you recognize his name, you know that he is a legend in the jazz all-of-fame. If you don’t know him, well, you should find out some time to meet his wonderful, passionate, intellectual and instinctive approach to music. Riccardo Del Fabbro interviewed him for us.

Have a seat and, Ladies and Gentlemen, enjoy the man from Ethiopia, Mr. Mulatu Astatke.

Mulatu Astatke

Ok so first of all thanks a lot for give us the opportunity to meet you and have an interview with you. Through your biography we found out that you spend your academic years between the Trinity College of Music in London and then the Berklee College in Boston.

And also Harvard and MIT as well.

And We also find out that at the beginning you went to Uk for studying engineering and then you change your mind. And so the first question is: Which were the motivation that you find out in music compared to the one in engineering?

Well, as you know, the problem was that I don’t know my talent. Probably because when you’re in your own country it’s very hard to find about yourself because of the subject that you get are very limited. But I had the chance to go to the Uk and over there question for me was: ”How do you create your personal behavior in another country?”. Because over there you have everything, specially in the Uk during that years. I had the possibility to discover the music, the theater, the dancing, physics, chemistry…you know everything… And in that background you have the chance to find out what’s yourself and what you really are. So at the university They used to test us every week to analyzes about ourself. And then they tried to said us in which profession we could be successful. An they told me that I was good in math and physics, but I could become a great musician. And at a certain point I took this advice from them. And It was a good advice because I found out about my talent, about myself and then I went to the Trinity College in London to study music and then after, more or less, one year I had the chance to move to Boston, to Berklee College.

Once in the Us I became the first African student in 1958.
That’s how I started to become a musician. Over there I started to going out listening and playing live music. At the beginning I was studying  and playing classic music, but later on was jazz. And then arranging, composing and also playing instruments.

I remember, it was quite fantastic at the time, all the professor told us “BE YOURSELF”. We had lot of homework on John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and Gil Evans. We had to analyze their work. And while I was analyzing this musicians I was asking myself: “How this people could be theirself? And at the same time I was asking myself “ How I can be myself in music?”
This was one of the most important topic for myself at the time, and after a while I moved to NYC. In NYC I had the possibility to create this music called “Ethio-Jazz”, and it’s almost 55 years from now. And after this creation, the “Ethio-Jazz” I became myself, the father of this music. And suddenly I started recording songs, albums, playing in a lot of different places in the US, and finally this music became really famous.

Basically that’s how it happen.

Mulatu Astatke

Wow that’s amazing.
Let’s focus on your Berklee’ years. Again through your biography I read that when you were in Berklee you discovered the “latin music”. Is that true?How it happened? Did you find out some inspiration from this genre?

Nothing! No inspiration from “latin music”. I explain you why. Because all the rhythms that you find out from latin music it’s African! They’re all african rhythms!
I never thought was latin music because, for me, they were african rhythms, my rhythms. That’s our rhythm. You know, through the history of music, these rhythms probably travelled from Africa to Caribbean music, to Cuba, to Latin America. But originally I’m sure they came from Africa. And then these music was taken by latin people. You know I love latin people, they’re great musicians, they’re my brothers. But still, the rhythms and the feelings of latin music they’re africans! So when I was arranging and composing at the time, at the beginning, I was thinking always about Africa, about Ethiopia. That’s how it happen. But maybe at the time, the latin rhythms had the chance to travel all over the world because it started from NYC, that at the time was the center of the world. But if you study all of those you gonna find out that the roots starts from Africa.

Think about this: maybe, if we talk about Montunos in Latin America you should know that in Congo we have this thing called Kikiriki, centuries before this Cuban genre. If you listen to a latin arrangement called Mambo 1 and Mambo 2, one faster than the other. But if you go to Congo, to Kinshasa specially, the Kikiriki arrangements works in the same way, usually at the same speed. So finally, I think we should all think that music it’s a communications between friends and brothers all over the world.

Mulatu Astatke

I had a curiosity right now. How do you immagine the music of the future, and, in general the future of the music?

The future of the music. First of all is to recognize and have respect and love for the bush people. That’ s what we should all be concerned about in music. The roots of our culture in music, and also in other aspects of the culture. So I’ll tell you what is about the future! The more you listen to this people, the more you work on this people, the more you gonna find out some new things in music, something different, something beautiful, that could probably change the nowadays music in something new.

For example let’s talk about the rhythms and the instruments of this bush people.
In africa we used to play with bamboo instruments. For example, in Zimbabwe you can find out the Mbira piano, that was used to play music centuries before the so called western music. So, once again, it’s all about the research of the roots in music. If you’re lucky through the research you can explore some new way to produce and play music, but you always have to think about the roots of the music, in my case through the African roots, from the bush people of Africa and sometimes from other part of the world. That’s where the roots, the creativity and the talent of music come from. So probably when you find out some strange instruments, some strange arrangements, is there that you should research and studying on, to discover some beautiful music to explore. So that’s what I suggest about the future.

So, last question: Can you think about your all-time top 3 album? Or some music that you fall in love with?

More than 50 years ago I did this album called “Mulatu of Ethiopia”, which was reissued in 2017. I was experimenting at the time, you know in Ethiopian music we have 4 different modes and 5 notes, pentatonic. In this arrangements we have the 4 modes all mixed together and this is one of my favorite compositions. In fact, I played this kind of arrangement also for Duke Ellington’s band. And Duke was so surprised because for him it was an “advanced music”.

Ellington said about this pentatonic: “ I was never expecting this from Africa”(Mulatu laughs). I wish I could say to him at the time the most of the roots are from Africa, as I told you before.
A part from that, I was in love with the music of Charlie Parker, what a great music, what a great jazz. I love Debussy, with his different scale of arrangements. And again, some amazing tribes from the south of Ethiopia, arranging music just with 12 notes, so beautiful and completely mysterious in producing it. But I’ll leave to the future the research of this wonderful and mysterious tribes(once again he’s laughing)


And then I asked him to sign me a vinyl and He wrote down “Music, love and Peace. Mulatu Astatke”

Interview by Riccardo Del Fabbro and Luca Pavan.

Thanks to the collaboration of  Udin&Jazz, Euritmica, Marina Tuni and Marco Saurini.

Mulatu Astatke

Mulatu Astatke (Gimma, Ethiopia, 1943), father of Ethio Jazz music in his resume we find several collaborations with John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington. He was the first African student of the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, and in 2005 he was renowned worldwide for Jim Jarmush’s “Broken Flowers” soundtrack.

An Interview with Taro Izumi

Paradoxa – Contemporary art from Japanis the latest exhibition at Casa Cavazzini, Udine. The most representative contemporary artists from Japan are on show from the 17th april to the 28th of august. Manya Kato, Takahiro Iwasaki, Yuuki Matsumura, Taro Izumi e Taturo Atzu (alias Tatzu Nishi – author of the “site specific” work in Piazza Libertà).

Site specific con "la Giustizia" di Taturo Atzu
Site specific, built around “la Giustizia”, statue by Taturo Atzu

The works are dedicated to the concept of “Paradox”. Each work has been created just for Udine’s exhibition, few days before the exhibition opening with the active collaboration of the friulian companyCalligaris. Each work is connected with aspects of everyday life or our habits. The most common objects are subjected to distortion or discussed reaching a paradoxical situation. A useless slide, objects with a twisted usage, perspective variations, a negative sculpture, small artworks made of human hair and visible from a telescope only, a small living room, suspended around a statue on the top of a column, far away from the ground.

This exhibition wants us to reflect, to stimulate our conscience and the aesthetic experience, because the paradox, the error, in oriental philosophies, can be helpful, expanding the ways and the shapes of our thought.

As Denis Viva, the show curator, said

“We are in the presence of Art, when what we see never leaves us as we were before.”

We were at the exhibition opening (find some pictures on Constraint Magazine Instagram page) and we managed to interview one of the five artists, Taro Izumi, who worked on the deconstruction of the Calligaris chairs.


Taro Izumi, if I’m right this must be your first exhibition in Italy with other artists from Japan. How was the experience in Udine? How was the collaboration with the local company Calligaris?

The collaboration with Calligaris has been very inspiring. I managed to use an experimental method transferring the artworks from my mind to the outside, in the Art World. I think that the process might be similar to the creation of a metropolis, created by people of different trades, with different goals and contradictions. The carpenter also had flexible ideas, I think that we communicated and had fun through the artwork. Now I am in Berlin and next to my apartment there’s a Calligaris shop. I feel like I’m still in Udine. I really liked Udine. I was born in Japan, in Nara, which is close to Kyoto, a very famous tourist spot. I found Udine similar to my birthplace, the fact that the city is close to a tourist city with a great history, Venice.

opera di Taro Izumi
opera di Taro Izumi

The exhibition is based on the paradox theme. What is paradox to you and which paradox did you represent in your art work, here at Casa Cavazzini?

When I’m creating my works I don’t have the control over the elements I’m using. I mix the freedom with the limit. I often obtain artworks that are different from how I am imagining them, but when the work is finished I think over and over about it. To me, the production of artwork is a paradox itself.

"Tickled in a dream (maybe)" di Taro Izumi
“Tickled in a dream (maybe)” by Taro Izumi

The artwork “Tickled in a dream (maybe)” is inspired by the impossible pose of a football player ( the artwork, built from pieces of Calligaris chairs, is a support that allows to take the position of a football player). Is it a tribute to the Italian football passion? Do you share the passion for the game?

I used the picture of the football player because of the shape of the position, more than the subject itself. It is hard to find such pictures in other sports, with so different movements. In football the players duck, stretch or jump, with a lot of variations and moves. Talking with Sai, my interpreter who plays football, I thought that I could make this work in Udine too. The strongest teams of the Japanese championship cannot be compared to a Serie A team. Making this artwork in Italy, the very place in which football is very popular, it seems to me, is relevant to Art.

Artwork by Taro Izumi
Artwork by Taro Izumi

You have studied at the Tama Art University, and now you live and work in Tokyo. What does it mean to be an artist in Japan nowadays?

Art in Japan is detached from society. We have to live feeling this friction with society every day. And even if this friction is perceived, the most serious thing is that a lot of Japanese people are not interested into contemporary art. I think that living in this situation has been a mental training to me.

Paradoxa at Casa Cavazzini, Udine
Paradoxa at Casa Cavazzini, Udine

Udine has nothing to do with Tokyo, but is a small Italian city that is trying to be culturally active and it is slowly opening to internationality. How did you find it, culturally and artistically speaking? Would you get back for a further exhibition?

In Udine I found the appropriate atmosphere to realize the artworks and to set cultural events. I like the way the people hang out chilling. Clearly it’s also nice to be frantic, as in Tokyo, but often the details are neglected. If another exhibition is going to happen in Udine I’d like to participate, but I’d also like to come back as a tourist.

Taro Izumi
Taro Izumi

What are your next exhibitions?

I’m in Berlin now, with the help of Mercedes Benz, I’ll present this works here and then in Japan at the Hara museum. This autumn I’ll be in Miami, and before the next summer I’ll be in Paris “Palais de Tokyo“,then, always in Paris at “GALERIE G.-P. & N. VALLOIS“, and then back in Japan at “Kanazawa 21st Century Museum“.

Interview by Valentina Ercole
Japanese translation by Sai Fukuyama
Contemporary art from Japan
– Udine, Piazza Libertà (site specific)
– Udine, Casa Cavazzini – Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, via Cavour 14
17 april – 28 agoust 2016
22 april al 28 agoust: 10.30 – 19.00
Monday closed
Ticket: Full price 5,00 € – Reduced 2,50 €
Info 0432 1273772 – [email protected] – www.casacavazzini.it
Curator Denis Viva
Support: Ambasciata del Giappone – 150° Anniversario delle relazioni tra Giappone e Italia
Main Sponsor Illycaffè
Technical SponsorCalligaris S.p.A.

The site Tatzu Nichi site specific might be mistaken for a building site.
The site Tatzu Nichi site specific might be mistaken for a building site.”

Japanese version:





Paradoxa a Casa Cavazzini, Udine
Paradoxa a Casa Cavazzini, Udine

③Tickled in a dream (maybe)ではサッカー選手のプレー中の形、すなわち普通には再現出来ないポーズになっています。


Paradoxa a Casa Cavazzini, Udine
Paradoxa a Casa Cavazzini, Udine



⑤ウディネは東京と大きく異なりとても小さな街ですが、国際的文化活動を積極的にし、徐々に成長しています。泉さんはこの街を文化的、アート的な面をどう思いましたか?もし又この街で美術展をすることになったら戻ってきたいと思いますか? この後の美術展などの予定はどうなっていますか?

今後の予定は、現在ベルリンにメルセデスベンツのグラントを得て滞在しているのですが、そこで作った作品を日本の原美術館、そしてベルリンで発表する機会がある予定です。今年の秋にはマイアミで作品を発表します。また、来年の夏前にパリのパレドトーキョーで展覧会、同じくパリのギャラリーGALERIE G.-P. & N. VALLOIS、金沢21世紀美術館などで展覧会をする予定です。

Udine3D forum, workshops and talks, Udine, Italy

Udine3D Logo Colore PNG

From 6 to 8 november Udine3D forum will present workshops and master classes for 3D artists, makers, architects, engineers, entrepreneurs and computer graphics entusiasts in the historic Palazzo Toppo-Wasserman in Udine. Here’s some information:

Sign in (italian)
Workshop list (italian)
Timetable (italian)

From www.udine3d.it:

Now in its fifth edition, Udine3D Forum (www.udine3d.it) is an event addressed to companies, professionals, students and to all those who are interested in discovering the most innovative technologies and applications in the fields of graphic design, 3D printing and digital imaging. Created and promoted by Confartigianato Udine (www.confartigianatoudine.com), the most important and representative association of artisans and small businesses in Friuli Venezia Giulia, with the collaboration of Segnoprogetto Srl (www.segnoprogetto.it), Udine3D Forum is sponsored and supported by institutional bodies such as the Professional Orders of Architects and Engineers, ADI, the University of Udine, the Municipality and the Province of Udine. The success of the past editions of Udine3D Forum is proved by the response from the public and by the audience, which has been growing over the years and led to record more than 600 entries in the edition of 2014. Quite significant, as well, is the growing interest among students from universities and high schools, who in the same edition have almost equaled (43% of visitors) the number of professionals and entrepreneurs (44%).


3D digitalization of the cultural heritage via


In the wake of this success of previous editions and driven by the will to improve and grow year after year, this edition of Udine3D Forum proposes for the first time a three days schedule – 6, 7 and 8 November at Palazzo Di Toppo-Wassermann, a short walk from the historic center of Udine – where conferences, technical and educational workshops and accompanying events will alternate. The main theme of this year is Thinking Space. Data production and processing systems and tools for 3D graphics and virtual reality are developing at such a high rate that a revolution is taking place in the way in which 3D models and also real environments are created.

Amanita via


The adoption of Building Information Modeling tools (BIM) by architects and engineers and the developing technologies related to the Internet of Things are deeply changing design workflows and the actual creation of smart environments, virtual and real. During the conferences, which will be open to the public, some of the most important players in the industry and some authoritative voices from journalism and the academia will speak and confront. As has always been the purpose of this event, each conference will be designed to accompany professionals, students and whoever’s interested in the discovery and exploration of digital technologies, their possible future developments and their practical applications, from a business point of view but not only.

In order to meet the different perspectives of interest, the conferences have been scheduled on Friday 6 in two separate sessions, with different themes and aimed at different audiences: the morning session will be addressed to university and high school students and young people and it will explore issues more informative and eye-catching, while the evening session will be devoted to entrepreneurs, professionals and operators from the industry and will have more technical and formative content. Beside conferences, a rich and diversified list of workshops will be offered, in which participants will be able to deepen issues and topics related to three different business sectors:

    • Architecture and Design;
    • Engineering and Prototyping;
    • Graphics and Digital Animation.

The activities which are going to be carried out in these workshops will range from the use of advanced design and 3D modeling softwares (Blender, AutoCAD and 3D Studio Max, Nemetsheck AllPlan and Cinema 4D, SketchUp, ZBrush, VRay, Nuke and Rhinoceros) to rapid prototyping through tools for rapid manufacturing like the latest generation of 3D printers, from the management of interactivity to the design and development of video games, from the use of open hardware boards (Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Beaglebone Black) to the virtualization and digitization of workstations for rendering processes.


Cinema4D : Virtual Reality and Architecture via


Among the activities of the Forum a series of specific events will also be organized and structured with the aim to accompany professionals and entrepreneurs in the approach to leading and most innovative 3D and digital technologies developed for their specific business, such as the Building Information Modeling (or BIM) for the architecture and engineering.
Alike, a dedicated path has been designed for students, to whom some free workshops will be specifically dedicated on Saturday, 7 November, and who will have the opportunity to meet the designers of Rainbow Academy, the prestigious school of 3D digital animation created by Rainbow CGI, a European leader in the production of audiovisual products for children and creator of the cartoon Winx.
Sunday, 8 November, will be dedicated to educational and entertaining activities designed for young people and families. Event of the day will be the Robotic Challenge, with Line Following and Robotic Sumo competitions, while the open and free workshops and laboratories will allow the audience to live active hands-on experiences such as building a small robot.


Casa della Contadinanza


Besides the technical and scientific events, Udine3D Forum also includes a few moments of conviviality and creation of new relationships. On the evening of Friday, 6 November, it will be possible to take part in an aperitif and a networking dinner, which are going to be held at Casa della Contadinanza, the historic and charming restaurant situated on the castle hill of Udine.
These moments of informal meeting will be attended by the speakers of the Forum and will be an opportunity to explore and deepen the issues covered during the day and to create new relationships and connections between professionals, to share experiences and projects and maybe to enter into new partnerships.
To facilitate and promote this openness to discussion and networking, the aperitif which forego the dinner will be enriched with some short speech in which selected guests will present their professional experiences or share important projects for which they are looking for partners or collaborations.

The organization and the scientific supervision of the event are managed by Confartigianato Udine and Segnoprogetto Srl, with the support of a dedicated Scientific Committee which gathered representatives of the Professional Orders (Order of Architects and Engineers), ADI, the University of Udine, Municipality of Udine, the Science and Technology Park “Luigi Danieli “, the District of Digital Technologies and ASDI Sedia.