Debo Band raises the roof on the Ethiopian musical past, picking up where political upheaval of the 1970s and 1980s quenched the energy of one of East Africa’s most prolific, vibrant scenes. They imagine what Duke Ellington, while on his famed African tour, might have played with the Addis Ababa Police Orchestra (“Blue Awaze”). They invent the jams of the Ethiopians who served in the Korean War and brought back influences from East Asia (the catchy Okinawan song “Hiyamikachi Bushi”).
Debo Band brings these musical what-ifs to life on Ere Gobez, the bold, grooving follow-up to their acclaimed debut. The large ensemble is known for its fun, danceable dives into Ethiopia’s rich musical worlds – from Orthodox Christian liturgy to hot-and-sweaty club sounds.
As Debo band leader and sax player Danny Mekonnen insists, Ethiopian musical cultures are so diverse that the band could only scratch the surface even after ten years of dedicated study. “In Ethiopia, in the early 70s, you had a lot of different styles and artists and arrangers. You had such wealth. You can never stop digging; there will always be new material to introduce people to. That’s something significant. We’re digging much, much deeper. We’re still unearthing new sounds after a decade.” And these are sounds to pack the dancefloor.
Ere Gobez is available May 20, 2016 from FPE on CD, 2xLP, and digital.
2xLP, CD, Digital Download
Licks and riffs cycle independent of one another, and you can take your pick of which to follow—it’s like the friendly bustle of a dance floor where there’s always someone to lead you no matter where you turn.
TEre Gobez is something you would hear at the beginning of one of those shellèla war cries, those calls. It translates loosely as something like “call of the lion-hearted.” For us, it could be just a call to the dance floor.
Large bands at such an unorthodox crossing of genres rarely boast a run like this, let alone Debo’s success at activating dance-floors worldwide with its finely honed repertoire, stirring horn arrangements, and Bruck Tesfaye’s soaring, tremulous tenor.