Addis Acoustic Project
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Addis Acoustic Project
Tewesta (Remembrance)
World Village ( )

Given the volume of great vintage music from Ethiopia thatís been discovered (or, more accurately, rediscovered) and made available in the last decade and a half, and considering how deeply those new/old Ethiopian sounds are loved by listeners well beyond the standard world music crowd, it was only a matter of time before a band like Addis Acoustic Project came along. Founded by guitarist/accordionist/arranger Girum Mezmer, the group re-creates in mostly instrumental style Ethiopian hits of the 1950s and 60s, a time when instruments like the mandolin and accordion were prominent and the funkier, horn-heavy sounds celebrated in much of Buda's Ethiopiques series hadnít yet arrived.

If the latter is the Ethiopian music you know and love, rest assured that what youíll hear on Tewesta isnít so very far removed from it. The serpentine melodies, zesty riffs and uniquely Ethiopian swing are here, although in a more stripped-down form. Alongside Mezmer are players who combine youthful strength and veteran savvy on mandolin, bass, clarinet, drums and percussion, often branching off into jazzy asides, Latin grooves or klezmer-like liveliness before slipping back into melodies that couldnít be from anywhere else but Ethiopia. AAPís intimate approach also shows the extent to which early Ethiopian popular music gleaned from sounds of nearby Sudan and even far afield influences like European waltzes and the works of Armenian arranger Nerses Nalbandian. At once traditional, experimental (itíd be great if Mulatu Astatke hooked up with these guys), and accessibly catchy, Addis Acoustic Project is onto something very special. Tewesta is a delight of a disc, and letís hope thereís more of its kind in the works. -- Tom Orr

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