Gili Yalo & the Anbessa Orchestra
The Drake (44 N Pleasant St)
EARLY SHOW: 7PM (6pm doors). LATE SHOW: 9:30 (9pm doors)
$20/25 GA . Students $16 (show student ID at door)
A remarkable thing happened in Ethiopia in the 1970s: The funky sounds of James Brown, Fela Kuti’s afrobeat, jazz, psychedelia, and West African Afro-funk had their moment – all at the same time – when the first record stores opened in Addis Ababa. And these imported sounds wove together with Ethiopia’s diverse music traditions to usher in a Golden Age of cross-pollinated sounds, scales and rhythms.
Gili Yalo & the Anbessa Orchestra have uncorked the music from that period – and it is glorious, soulful, funkified stuff. Yalo, an Ethiopian-Israeli based in Tel Aviv, fronts the Brooklyn-based band with his unique voice, singing in English, Amharic and even Hebrew. His personal story is also inflected in the project: he was just a child in 1984 during Operation Moses, the famous covert evacuation of Ethiopian Jews from Sudan in the midst of famine. His family fled on foot from Ethiopia among 8,000 other refugees rescued and taken to Israel in the operation.
Today, Gili Yalo reconnects with his homeland through this project and gives a new meaning to traditional Ethiopian music. His contemporary take on the club sounds of 1970s Addis Ababa is part of a broader revival led by the discovery of the Ethiopiques recordings. The Anbessa Orchestra, frequent visitors to the Valley in past years, make for an incredible backing band. Armed with a full horn section and incredible original compositions, they make a formidable team with Yalo.
For this opening weekend at the Drake, they’ll play an early show and a late show – come to one (or come to both!) – just don’t sleep on this rare opportunity to see Gili performing together with the Anbessa. And don’t forget your dancing shoes.
Gili Yalo’s performance is generously supported by the Neta Bolozky and Yaffa Gunner Fund and the Consulate General of Israel to New England.