• The Forgotten '70s Ethiopian Funk and Soul of Ayalew Mesfin

    Unheard Ethio-grooves from 1970s Addis Ababa released by Now Again Records and Vinyl Me, Please.


    More than 40 years ago Ayalew Mesfin, along with the Black Lion Band, recorded music in Ethiopia. Now, after all that time, Mesfin is releasing his very first album.

    Mesfin and the Black Lion Band, of whom Tamiru Wolde A'b, Teshome Deneke, Tamiru Ayele, Tamirat Ziltini, Tekle Tesfaezgi and the Italian Giovanni Vincenzo were founding members of, performed at venues such as Patris Lumumba Night Club and the Etege Taitu Hotel.

    Their music, funky and groovy with Western instrumentation, is a beautiful amalgamation of the Black Diaspora. Built upon centuries of Ethiopian musical tradition and then skillfully infused with the influence and style of African-American musicians, Ethiopian artists, as well as others throughout the continent, produced some cold tracks.

    In the past several years, the shining outburst of jazz, soul, and funk that was created in the 1960s and '70s Ethiopia with the help of the Éthiopiques compilation series, has come to the attention of those who had never lived in the country during the time of the music's production and the height of its popularity. The "music-heads" of the West have joyfully been introduced to these sounds. The songs from this periodhave been sampled in hip-hop, used in movie soundtracks, and perhaps ironically, play, most likely at a volume not too loud but not too quiet, at your local gentrifying cafe.

    Read full story on okayafrica


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  • Ethiopia's Jano Band talks new album

    Jano Band became the first Ethiopian band to feature on Coke Studio Africa when they collaborated with South African singer Shekhinah in Nairobi, Kenya, last year. 

    The band – which consists of two female vocalists, two male lead vocalists and six musicians on bass, guitars, keyboards and drums – was brought together by Addis Gessesse in 2011.

    Since the release of Ertale in 2012, the group has collaborated and worked with American producer Bill Laswell who helped the group sparkle on the international arena.

    In September last year, news broke that the band was on the verge of a breakup. The band disputed the reports through its current manager Sammy Tefera who went on to announce that the band would be launching its second album in early 2018.

    Music In Africa caught up with one of the band’s lead vocalists, Dibekulu Tafesse, to talk about their 16-track album, Lerasih New, which was released on 1 February.

    Read the full story on musicinafrica

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  • Two Ethiopian Music Legends Bring Ethiopian Jazz and Funk to Los Angeles

    For many people outside of the Habesha community, their first experience with Ethiopian music came from the soundtrack of a Bill Murray movie. That movie, 2005’s Broken Flowers, concerns Murray’s character trying to make contact with an adult son of his who may or may not exist. In the movie, Murray’s character is helped on his journey by his neighbor, played by Jeffrey Wright, who not only plans out Murray’s quest, but maybe most importantly, provides him with a soundtrack in the form of a playlist on a burnt CD consisting mostly of the elegantly fidgety Ethiopian funk of vibraphonist and pianist Mulatu Astatke. The music, funky, with hard drum breaks, soil deep bass lines, hauntingly melancholic brass solos, steady keyboard vamps that break out into wistful sentiments, and the occasional reverb heavy wah wah guitar rejoinder, is an essential element in constructing the mood and emotional ambiance of the movie, so much so that the director, Jim Jarmusch, makes a point to show a large portrait of Mulatu Astatke in the home of Jeffrey Wright’s character.

    “It was a revolutionary time for music in Ethiopia” says Hailu Mergia, a Ethiopian pianist and accordionist, describing the late 1960s and early 1970s in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa during the time period that both he and Mulatu Astatke were making music. “Before the late 1960s, there weren’t too many nightclubs in Addis, but in the late ’60s, a lot more clubs started to open, and a lot of musicians started to come out to play,” Hailu goes on to say, “everybody was trying to play with a band. I call it the ‘Band Era.’’’

    Read full story at ocweekly

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