Performing classic Ethiojazz, one of Ethiopia’s defining musical creations in the 20th century, Feedel Band is at the forefront of the vibrant Ethiopian music scene in Washington, D.C., home to the second largest urban Ethiopian population in the world (est. 250,000). Ethiojazz, which was born in Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa during the 1960s and ’70s, marries traditional Ethiopian pentatonic melodies and rhythms with the jazz, funk, and soul sounds of African American artists like Benny Carter, Junior Walker, and Maceo Parker. New York Times music critic Jon Pareles aptly describes Feedel’s sound as “hypnotic” and “timeless” with “distinctive minor modes and diminished harmonies, long zigzagging melodies and a brooding, smoldering groove.”
The core members of Feedel—which means “alphabet” in Amharic—have been performing together for more than 25 years in clubs or behind international stars like Aster Aweke and Mahmoud Ahmed. In 2010, pianist Araya Woldemichael inspired them to form the Feedel Band, with a focus on “bringing back the music—to provide people with group music again.” Joining him were master musicians like saxophonist Moges Habte, a founding member of Ethiojazz’s pioneering Walias Band. As their fame grows, they continue to explore the roots of Ethiojazz, adding traditional dancers and instruments—the krar (lyre) and masenko (one-stringed fiddle)—to their mesmerizing performances.