Debo Band Grooves to Ethiopian Jazz of the 70s

The World

Debo Band (Photo: Sub Pop! Records)

Debo Band is based in Boston. But they're all about Addis Ababa. The starting point for this 11-piece ensemble is Ethiopia's homegrown jazz scene from several decades back. Co-founders Danny Mekonnen and Arik Grier told us last year that if Ethio-jazz from the last century was where they started, it was almost inevitable that the sound would get bent into the current century. "We're playing music in a style from the 70s that had very large horn sections and strings," Grier told us. And Mekonnen added "We play music that's so heavily influence by the 1970s, but I think the fact that we chose to work with young torchbearers of the music who are bringing traditional vibrancy of Addis Ababa. It's a slightly different direction than I think the roots of the band would have laid out for us." The torchbearers Danny Mekonnen is talking about are Debo Band's collaborators. Last year, it was Ethiopian dancers and musicians from the group Fendika. Before that, Debo Band surrounded themselves with players from the worlds of Klezmer and funk. Debo Band seems to generate more excitement from one show to the next. This year, they've been packing houses from New York to Austin. That's also led to heavy expectations surrounding Debo Band's first full-length CD. But they deliver.
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