In 1924, a brass-band became Ethiopia's first official orchestra. Until the 1950s big institutional bands dominated. In the 1960s, musicians began to fuse Jazz, Soul and Rhythm'n'Blues with the traditional Ethiopian five-note scale in what today is known as Ethio-Jazz. This first peak for Ethiopian music was called the era of 'Swinging Addis'.

 

But when the grim Marxist regime of the 'Derg' took power in 1974, it killed 'Swinging Addis' - like it killed almost everything else. Many were murdered, many escaped, most to America. All cultural life was paralyzed. But when the horror finished in 1991, only a few musicians found their way back.

 

It took until the 21st century that a new generation of young Ethiopian musicians began to fill the void. This is their story.

 

JAMMING ADDIS accompanies its prota- gonists through the long days and electrifying nights of Addis Ababa. Clubs and cultural

centers such as the Fendika, Mama's Kitchen, the Jupiter Hotel or the Jazzamba Lounge are their playgrounds. Joyfully yet always aware of their heritage, this new generation is transforming Ethiopia into a modern country.

 

Pianist Samuel Yirga, bandleader Girum Mezmur, dancer Melaku Belay, bassist and music teacher Henock Temesgen, the students of the Jazzamba School of Music, Beguenna-harpist Alemu Aga are but some of our protagonists. With confidence and astonishing ease they explore their cultural identity. The result is a cinematic jam-session where color, music, stories and people come together creating insights into unknown aspects of the new Ethiopia.

development

supported by

production

sustained by

World Sales

through

director / writer

DIRK VAN DEN BERG

 

cinematography

HENRIK SAUER

 

produced by

HERBERT GEHR

DIRK VAN DEN BERG

 

79', English-Amharic

JAMMING ADDIS

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