Home > Concert, Music > Jazz in the garden

Jazz in the garden

This last weekend music lovers in Addis converged for the 2nd annual installment of the acacia jazz fest for two days of jazz appreciation. True to its promise, the fest offered the best fusions of jazz elements and contemporary music from established and exciting new talents. With Nubian Ark, the group that fuses Ethiopian music scale and rhythms with jazz and funk, the touring band Der Rote Bereich described as the most important representative of German avant-garde jazz, Jazzmaris, a local band that combines the swinging Addis era music with its own original compositions, the Ethio-Cuban band “Eshi Havana” which brought its sumptuous Caribbean flavors to the festival, this was sure a weekend to remember.

The festival was meticulously planned and executed. Held at the Bole’s Floral Tropical Gardens, a fantastic outdoor concert venue, there was a complete festival atmosphere with food and beer garden. The setting made for an intimate concert performance and the sound was fine, whether you were sitting at half court or at the back. Most importantly, there was skillful mix of artists, by representing diverse, eclectic and inventive bands.
One of the singers who gave an outstanding performance at the festival was the US-based Ethiopian vocalist Munit Mesfin who shone with set of songs brimming with vibrancy,and absolute joie de vivre.Accompanied by the German guitarist Jorg, Munit sang her rendition of Lemma Demsewe’s all time favorite Astwasehalehu, a hit by now even the expat community in Addis seem to be familiar with.

Munit’s musical rapport with Jorg was evident throughout the performance. Peppering her performance with giggly tales, Munit also played a song she dedicated for March 8, International Women’s Day, part of the lyrics she said was written by her young brother.

Another group that brought grace and fervor to the festival was the Jazz trio, Der Rote Bereich. Founded in 1992, the band was invited to Addis Ababa by the Goethe-Institut and features guitarist Frank Möbus, saxophone virtuoso Christian Weidner and drummer Oliver Steidle. Performing on Sunday noon, the trio came up with a straight-ahead jazz acts, fresh sounds and rapid-fire streams of notes. It was one of the festival’s greatest moments.

The Addis acoustic project presented a commanding performance. Led by guitarist Girum Mezmur, the group as usual, delivered songs rearranged from the 1950s and 1960s with mélange of fresh melodies. Melaku Belay’s naturally playful and virtuosic eskista dance gave to the music a distinctive flavor. The veteran mandolin player and vocalist Ayele Mamo’s song “Calypso” was a delight of the crowd. The group’s performance was a reminder of how satisfying acoustic jazz can be, when played by masters of the genre.
The Nubian ark also delivered a set of originals, along with standards to which the band gave a fresh twist. The group is made up of Henok Temsgen on bass, Samuel Yirga on keyboard, Natanael Tessema on drum, Aklilu on tenor sax, Yisahk Dawit on trombone and Misale Legesse on percussion. The audience’s applause at the end was sincere, not just casually polite. The group demonstrated that the sensitive band had a lot to give, and the audience will clearly see more of it and its wonderful style of jazz as it makes an indelible mark on the scene.

Yet, the singer who got everyone dancing at the end was the hotly anticipated Zeritu. Accompanied by Zemen band, she once again proved that she remains hugely entertaining in performance. Along with many of her well known hits, Zeritu sang a brand new material, a tune which had a joyous, gospel feel to it. Zeritu also surprised the crowd by crooning one of her well known songs with Oromigna lyrics.
Throughout it all, there’s much to enjoy in Zeritu’s multi-lingual daring, her easy-going, delightful rapport with the audience. Her blazing honesty with new and daring material is commendable and a joyful end to this year’s jazz festival. There was a lot of promise radiating from the acacia jazz fest, and the inventiveness of the event’s organizers made it clear that the fest will continue to provide just that for many years to come.

  1. Silver
    March 29, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Hey Arefe is there a website or newspaper that tell you events and things to do in Addis on weekly basis??

  2. March 30, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Hi silver,
    Thank s for reading my blog. For advice on Addis social life, entertainment venues, concerts, live music, clubs, restaurants, I think Addis out is good. I know they have a website but I mostly use the print version, which you could take for free at all branches of the Book World and big hotels in the town. If you haven’t so far, check their web
    But I don’t how if they update it regularly. Foreign cultural institutions, like Alliance, Goethe have events regularly, it is worth periodically checking their site too. If you are on their email lists they will let you know the event to take place

  3. March 30, 2011 at 10:59 am

    I would like to be there… may be the next time. Good job, Arefe, and thanks for share.

  4. biruh
    March 31, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    wow it was an amazing event. and tanx for z journal this is something that i can show for my frnds who were not there.

  5. Martha Tefera
    April 6, 2011 at 8:43 am

    WOW amazing.

  1. March 30, 2011 at 5:10 pm
  2. March 30, 2011 at 5:10 pm
  3. March 30, 2011 at 5:25 pm
  4. March 30, 2011 at 7:53 pm
  5. March 30, 2011 at 8:00 pm

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