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The Young Ethio Jazz Band

The Young Ethio Jazz Band.

The Young Ethio Jazz Band.

A group of US-based young Ethiopian musicians, ranging in age from 10 to 15, are playing Ethio-jazz and getting some media coverage like this one.
Sirak Tegbaru leads young members of Oakland’s Medhani Alem Ethiopian Orthodox Church in an unusual extracurricular activity: a traditional Ethiopian jazz band. The young musicians, ranging in age from 10 to 15, had their first performance on Sunday, at Rasela’s Jazz Club in San Francisco’s Fillmore district. They call themselves the Young Ethio Jazz Band.
The students play Ethio-jazz, a style that blends American jazz and Latin rhythms with traditional Ethiopian sounds. Led by figures like Mulatu Astatke, Ethio-jazz flowered during the 1960s and early ’70s.
The eight person band played several covers at Rasela’s, with many members taking solos on each song. Most Ethiopian music hasn’t been written down, so Tegbaru has to study each song carefully, learning the keyboard, horn, bass, and drum parts so that he can teach them to his band. After seven months of practices, they were ready for their first performance this January.
Yonathan Estfanos, who plays trumpet, describes the Young Ethio Jazz Band’s sound as “unique and mellow and lively. And nothing like anything people have ever heard of, especially people of this generation.” Like many of the band members, Estfanos says the band has allowed him to preserve his cultural heritage. “I feel like I’m going back to my culture, you know? I feel like I’m going back to my roots,” he said.

  1. Debebe eshetu
    January 13, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Dear young Ethiopians though I did not the opportunity to attend your performance, the very fact Ethiopians as young as going to Jazz and more than any thing performing for the public makes me so happy and proud of you. I am an Ethiopian proofessional stage and film actor residing in Ethiopia and will assure you I will make it a point to communicate with you young angles and try to listen to your pieces.
    I am sure some of your parents will tell you if you ask them about me
    God bless you and may you shine with your talents
    With respect
    Debebe Eshetu

    • Sirak Tegbaru
      January 31, 2013 at 10:12 pm

      Dear Mr. Debebe,
      It was great pleasure being noticed and get comment form you.
      With respect

      Sirak Tegbaru

  2. February 5, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Great stuff, it is nice to see the young following in the foot steps of our Jazz musicians. Ethiopian music needs this genre to evolve into the next generation.

  3. February 15, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Outstanding, how I wish you started when my daughter was in junior high. Sirak, keep up the good work. I am so proud of you.

    • Sirak Tegbaru
      February 19, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      Dear Martha,
      Thank you for your kind words.
      Sirak Tegbaru

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