This album, the second for the Debo Band, is a fuller accounting of their talent, indeed 11 tracks over 59 minutes. Their previous was an EP. While the earlier release was of live, more traditional recordings in Ethiopia, with that special energy and spontaneity, this issue has better sound and more developed, more polished arrangements. The vocalist, Bruck Tesfaye, is further back this time, in line with the wide assortment of instruments of the present 12-member ensemble: electric and acoustic violins, accordion, tenor and baritone saxophones, trumpet, trombone, guitar, sousaphone (yes, sousaphone), electric bass, drums, folk percussion, and embilta, which are 2-tone (fundamental and 4th or 5th) flutes without finger holes. The fundamental sound is Ethiopian with some regional influences of Sudan and Somalia; yet this a modern semi-fusion band with jazz big band and rock structures. The tunes are based on folk dance songs, wedding songs, romantic works, and praise songs. Some tracks have a funk flavor, some seem old-fashioned in the brass and violin style, other pieces simply rock, and a couple are slow and sensitive or bluesy melancholic. One praise piece includes the wax-and-gold double entendre form of poetic lyrics. Much of the music, however, is bright, cheerful, and strongly rhythmic. The final celebratory track, using traditional Ethiopian flutes, folk drums, and the drum kit, is a band original and sung in English. Debo Band is exotically unique. Its repertoire is diverse and always interesting.
on February 9, 2014
For anyone interested in eclectic and jazz-inspired world music drawn from Ethiopia's past and present, this is worth your time. Excellent melodies, well integrated multi-instrumentalism, varied and quite diverse soundscapes, and a pleasant journey through both positive rhythms and darker moods. Some songs are more captivating than others, but the album is quite satisfying. I will be watching for more from this great band. They must be amazing live!
on July 12, 2012
Debo Band's first album is a fun, upbeat, highly listenable collection of new and classic Ethiopian pop and folk songs. The album is varied and well-paced, and the music is simply amazing. Highly recommended.
on September 6, 2012
My brother turned me on to this!! Jazzy, authentic, Ethio/American, and soul lifting! This neo take on traditional Ethiopian music is true to the ear and just rhythmically outstanding!! Fans of world music will bite and so will avant garde jazz fans. The music is just fun...
on September 4, 2014
startling and enjoyable fusion of ancient and modern, brass, accordion, violins, drums, guitars, a sousaphone, and a magnificent voice. Looking forward to their sophomore album- saw them live at the MFA, they put on a show, catch them if you can.