The sound of Ethiopian jazz and funk is unmistakable. The thing is, once you hear it and then actually feel the music, it changes you forever. I remember the first time I heard Mulatu Astatke and my mind was blown. The mesmerizing call of the horns, the steady pounding of the drums, him on the vibes hypnotizing the listener. The music was deep, deeper than I had ever gotten with music (except for free jazz but that’s for another time). Such is the case with NYC’s premier Ethiopian funk group Anbessa Orchestra. Preserving the Sound of Ethiopia’s golden age of music in the ’60s and ’70’s, this seven-piece outfit comprised of Nadav Peled (Composition, Arrangement, Guitar), Eyal Vilner (Flute), Wayne Tucke (Trumpet), Eden Bareket (Baritone Sax), Dor Heled (Organ), and Eran Fink (Drums), the orchestra has made quite a name for themselves in NYC and beyond. Combining the aforementioned sound with their own compositions and groove has landed them not just headlining gigs but supporting legends such as Hailu Mergia and a feature on Daptone Record’s compilation Beyond Addis Volume 2. Today’s track “Werik’i (Gold)” is a fitting composition seeing it’s Valentine’s Day this week and well, love is supposed to be in the air. Aside from that though, we’ll take this track as a ” reflective ballad moving us to time of pure love” (according to the band) and second that emotion. It’s a moving, beautiful piece of music that immediately fills one’s heart and soul with joy. A nod back to the greats and face forward with their own interpretations of the music itself, Anbessa Orchestra takes off with this piece of authentic Ethiopian love. We dare you to just listen to it once. You can’t.
Get ready to push play again. This effort was recorded by the ever-talented Billy Aukstik at Hive Mind Recording, so you know it’s official. Listen to the track below and get it after the stream.