Entertainment Music

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Sax on legs from Boston to Ethiopia

John Meagher

John Meagher

debo band

Debo Band

(Sub Pop)


Debo Band is an 11-member Boston-based collective led by Ethiopian-American saxophonist Danny Mekonnen -- and they have caused quite a stir since stealing the show at the South By South West festival a few years ago.

Delving deep into his family tree, Mekonnen and his cast of multi-instrumentalists have created an absorbing album that embraces traditional Ethiopian music and the country's impressive jazz scene.

Throw in classic American soul and funk rhythms, the sort of DIY indie instincts redolent of a band like TV On The Radio and instrumentation -- brass, accordions -- normally associated with Eastern European music and you have a band with an uncompromising vision whose music is a world away from the sort of identikit outfits clogging up a hype machine near you.

The result -- a mix of original compositions and Ethiopian standards -- is an intoxicating, multi-faceted triumph not a million miles from the groundbreaking Ethiopiques series of albums.

The rhythms are infectious, the time signatures constantly surprise and the myriad vocals are both joyful and evocative.

KEY TRACKS Ney Ney Weleba; Medinanna Zelesegna

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