Masterful Ethio Grooves

Debo Band – Debo Band
Debo Band

Debo Band (Next ambiance/Sub Pop, 2012)

The self-titled album Debo Band mark’s the band’s debut album on Sub Pop’s Next ambiance world music label. Sub Pop have chosen well as this is one of the finest world music outfits based in the United States.

Debo Band plays a sensational mix of traditional songs and tunes from Ethiopia as well as original pieces inspired by the golden age of Ethiopian music which took place in the late 1960s. That influential sound was known as Ethiojazz. The large Debo Band ensemble features a vibrant brass section along with two violins and accordion that create a rich sound with fascinating contrasts.

The Debo Band sound takes jazz and the pentatonic scales of Ethiopian music to the 21st century, adding American soul, blues and funk grooves, fabulous electric violin, electric guitar and brass elements borrowed from Eastern European Gypsy music.

Debo Band
Photo by Shawn Brackbill
Debo Band was founded in 2006. It is an 11-member group based in Boston, led by Ethiopian-American saxophonist Danny Mekonnen and fronted by magnetic vocalist Bruck Tesfaye. The rest of the band includes Gabe Birnbaum on tenor saxophone, Danilo Henriquez on trumpet and percussion, Kaethe Hostetter on violin, Jonah Rapino on electric violin, Brendon Wood on guitar, Marié Abe on accordion, PJ Goodwin on bass, Arik Grier on sousaphone, and Adam Clark on drums.

Debo Band has toured Ethiopia twice, appearing at both the Ethiopian Music Festival in Addis Ababa and Sauti Za Busara in Zanzibar, the largest music festival in East Africa.

The band’s first recording is the EP titled Flamingoh (Pink Bird Dawn). It is a collection of live tracks recorded in three locations: Addis Ababa (Ethiopia); Zanzibar (Tanzania); and Cambridge (Massachusetts, USA). The pieces feature Debo Band’s vocalist Bruck Tesfaye together with the captivating female vocals of guest Selamnesh Zemene.

Debo Band will be performing along with Forro in the Dark at The Joshua Light Show (New York City) on September 16th, 2012, at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York City

Show: 7:30 pm
Tickets: $20-$32,
For info and tickets, call 212.352.3101 or see

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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