If you’re like me and long for Ethiopian music to be like it was in my childhood in the 1950s and 60s, back when Ethiopia’s pop music of this era predominantly featured acoustic instruments such as the mandolin, accordion, clarinet, and double bass, played along with traditional instruments such as the “Kirar”, “Kebero”, “Washint” and”Massinko”. Then you’ll love the new album from the Addis Acoustic Project, Tewesta (Remembrance)!! The album brings back that old music but in a new light! Of course I am kidding – but I have listened to the album a couple of times and I must say that I like it!!
The members of the Addis Acoustic Project are some of Addis Ababa’s best acoustic musicians.The Project is directed and arranged by guitarist Girum Mezmur and presents Ethiopian music from the past in a contemporary way. The group’s musical style has influences of traditional East-African, Jazz, and Latin in it.
The band, composed of veteran musicians such as Ayele Mamo (Mandolin), as well as contemporary musicians such as Girum Mezmur (Guitar/Accordion/Arrangement), Henock Temesgen (Double Bass), Nathaniel Tesemma (Drums/Percussions), Aklilu Wolde Yohannes (Clarinet/Flute), and Misale Legesse (Kebero/Percussions), produces unique sounds dear to most Ethiopians and that undoubtedly appeal to a greater world music audience. Some have even dubbed the group as being similar to the “Buena Vista Social Club”.
To me the music also sounds like Gypsy music from some of the Balkan states! Maybe that’s because of the presence of the accordion. Both the guitar playing of Mezmur and the mandolin playing of Ayele Mamo are top-shelf!!
Now we can all have a lesson on the traditional Ethiopian instruments!! From Wikipedia:
The krar or kraar is a five- or six-stringed bowl-shaped lyre from Eritrea and Ethiopia. The instrument is tuned to a pentatonic scale. A modern krar may be amplified, much in the same way as an electric guitar or violin.
The washint is an end-blown wooden flute originally used by the Amhara people in Ethiopia. Traditionally, Amharic musicians would pass on their oral history through song accompanied by the washint as well as the krar, a six stringed lyre, and the masenqo, a one string fiddle.
The masenqo (also spelled masenko, mesenqo, mesenko, masinko, or masinqo) is a single-stringed bowed lute commonly found in the musical traditions ofEthiopia and Eritrea. As with the krar, this instrument is used by Ethiopian minstrels called azmaris (“singer” in Amharic) . Although it functions in a purely accompaniment capacity in songs, the masenqo requires considerable virtuosity, as azmaris accompany themselves while singing.
You have all those! Now remember them because there will be a quiz tomorrow!! Anyway the album is really good, so check them out at:
Here’s the Addis Acoustic Project performing “Yetintu Tiz Alegn”