ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Young Ethiopians packed into the compound of the Swedish embassy in Addis Ababa on Saturday night to savour an “Ethio Jazz” performance, an annual festival that celebrates Ethiopia’s love for the musical genre.
On a neon-lit stage in the country’s capital, artists played various Ethiopian jazz music pieces as hundreds of revellers danced, mimed and quaffed beer to celebrate the second edition of the so-called Addis Jazz Festival (AJF).
AJF debuted in 2019 and was conceived as a platform to promote Ethiopian jazz as well as to bring international jazz to Ethiopia. The event is the brainchild of Muzikawi, an Ethiopian music and events production company.
“The current generation is interested in Ethio Jazz…every time we play (a) concert, the young people really give us encouragement and they encourage us to keep doing what we do. It’s really wonderful,” said Jorga Mesfin, a well-known Ethiopian saxophonist and jazz artist who performed at the concert.
The performance boasted various instruments, including saxophone, guitar, trombone, percussion and drums.
“Our country has a major unutilised asset of art, which is Ethio Jazz,” said Teshome Wendimu, founder and manager of Muzikawi.
While Ethiopia had plentiful jazz talent, he said, the country had yet to exploit it.
“We have that guilt. We could have produced a lot of artists that had the potential to make the country popular with jazz.”
Artists at the concert included some of Ethiopia’s well- known talents, like the Young Addis jazz group, who performed some of their best hits, like “Adwa.”
The two-day event was set to end on Sunday night, with a performance by Sweden’s Club Killers group.
(Writing by Elias Biryabarema; reporting by Kumerra Gemechu; Editing by Bernadette Baum)