Above: Members of the former Ekos Band: from the left Alula
Yohannes, Tesfaye Mekonnen, Tamrat Ferenji, Amha Eshete,
Teshome Mitiku, Feqade Amdemesqel & Tewodros Mitiku.- CP
Published: Saturday, July 17, 2010
New York (Tadias) – Either/Orchestra, the American jazz band that popularized Ethiopian classics in the United States through collaboration with legends such as Mulatu Astatke, Mahmoud Ahmed, Alemayehu Eshete and saxophonist Getatchew Mekurya, has an upcoming show at the prestigious Chicago Jazz Festival on September 4th featuring Teshome Mitiku.
In the late 60′s, Teshome, along with his brother and alto saxophonist Theodros “Teddy” Mitiku, trumpeter Tamrat Ferendji, bassist Fekade Amde-Meskel, drummer Tesfaye Mekonnen, guitarist Alula Yohannes and singer Seifu Yohannes, joined to form the influential Soul Ekos Band – the first independent band to be recorded in Ethiopia. According to the artist’s website: “The band released numerous songs, including four hits written by Teshome: Gara Ser New Betesh, Yezemed Yebada, Mot Adeladlogn and Hasabe.”
Yezemed Yebada was later included on the first of the Ethiopiques CD series where it was discovered by the Either/Orchestra band leader Russ Gershon, who re-arranged it as an instrumental for his band. The song has since been re-recorded and released two more times including for the double CD Ethiopiques 20: Live in Addis (2005).
The Either/Orchestra band recently held a prelude gig at Liliy Pad in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at an event dubbed “A secret concert with Teshome Mitiku, a great Ethiopian voice.” As the leader tells it, this was a show that has been a long time coming. “In 1969, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a young singer named Teshome Mitiku wrote a song called Yezemed Yebada and recorded it under the aegis of the legendary Amha Records,” Gershon said in an email explaining the connection between Either/Orchestra and the Ethiopian musician. “Three years later Teshome left Ethiopia for Sweden, where he developed a music career, fathered a little girl who became the Swedish pop star Emilia, and eventually moved to the U.S.”
Teshome Mitiku will perform Yezemed – and several other songs – with the Either/Orchestra at the 32nd Annual Chicago Jazz Festival. Gershon tells Tadias Magazine that Getatchew Mekurya will also make an appearance at the longest running of the city’s lake-front musical events.
If You Go:
The 2010 Chicago Jazz Festival will take place from September 2nd to the 5th in Grant Park. Learn more.
Video: The Either/Orchestra with Ethiopian Singer Mahmoud Ahmed: Bemin Sebeb Litlash
Swedish pop star Emilia (Teshome Mitiku’s daughter)- You’re My World (Melodifestivalen 2009)
The Either/Orchestra with Alèmayèhu Eshèté at Damrosch Park, New York, Aug 20, 2008