This footage of Sammy has been lurking on my system since the final recording and mixing sessions of ‘Guzo’ early last year. Samuel Yirga’s debut solo album - the title “Guzo’ means ‘journey’ in Amharic (the official language of Ethiopia) is now about to be released on Real World Records and so the need to tell his story,or at least give a little background to ‘Guzo’ has finally made it to the top of the pile.
I first met Sammy when he came to Real World to record with Dub Colossus in the spring of 2008. HIs enthusiasm and joy at having access to a piano - something that amazingly, given his talent was not, and I think may still not be the case back in Ethiopia, was infectious. At the time there was an wonderful Concert Grand Bösendorfer piano in Peter Gabriel’s studio. Late one evening with the studios all quiet we introduced Sammy to the piano - unfortunately I didn’t have the foresight to capture the moment with my camera, but we did record his playing and one of the tracks, his own composition, ‘Ambassel in Box’, appeared on a Dub Colossus EP later that year.
Hearing Sammy play that evening is a great memory, so it was a joy when Real World Records managed to find a way to bring him back to the studio to work on his solo project - as with Dub Colossus under the production guidance of Nick Page a.k.a Dubulah.
Not only did we get Sammy to tell us a little of his story, we also persuaded him to play ‘Ambassel In Box’ once again, this time on the Yamaha in The Wood Room. The piano may not have been quite as impressive, but it was amazing to see how far Sammy had developed the composition and playing in the intervening three years - somehow he’d taken the whole thing to another level, and this time I did have my camera running. He’s definitely a man to watch.
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