Abyssinia Band
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Abyssinia Band

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After a hiatus of more than a decade, the Abyssinia Band has been reunited by its former leader, Abiyou Solomon, and former keyboardist, Berhane Kidane. The band’s reunion debut album has just been completed under the AIT Records label and will be released January 2008. The new album consists of songs from eight different Ethiopian tribes and incorporates both modern and traditional Ethiopian instruments.
One of the dominant bands in Ethiopia in the early 1990s, the Abyssinia Band recorded and was part of a Swedish compilation CD entitled, Music from Ethiopia (samples on Amazon.com & included in our submission). The CD’s success in Sweden led to a tour of that country, and the band also performed at Etnosoi in Finland. In addition, the Abyssinia Band was featured in the book, Rough Guide to World Music, Volume One: Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
Apart from their work with the Abyssinia Band, founder Abiyou Solomon has been featured as a back-up musician and/or arranger on over 150 cassettes and CDs. Lead singer and Masinko player, Setegn Atanaw, recorded his debut album, Gonder, with AIT Records in the United States, and two of his songs are featured on The Ethiopian Millennium Collection – Traditional CD (samples on CDBaby.com).

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Abiyou Solomon leads the Abyssinia Band, one of the most exciting musical groups to emerge in post-Marxist Ethiopia. Abyssinia, which Abiyou co-founded in the early 1990s, radically shifted the sound of traditional Ethiopian music by blending it with the seven-note Western scale to produce a modern, more richly textured sound. Out went the MIDI electronic sound; in came a thickly layered music that uses indigenous instruments side-by-side with Western reeds and percussion.
Abiyou picked up the guitar as a youngster – he had no formal training. From this modest start he went on to join the Ethio-Stars band, backing such chart-topping artists as Getachew Kassa and Theodros Taddesse. Now, more than a decade after the original group parted ways, Abiyou -- along with Berhane Kidane, the original keyboard player -- has reprised the Abyssinia Band and has just completed their debut reunion album.
This landmark album (to be released in December), is constructed in such a way that all of the flavors, complex time signatures, ancient instruments, and pure and innocent songs that have been with the people of rural Ethiopia for hundreds of years are fully represented, and the grooves of the different tribes are boldly exposed. New vocal parts and music have been added to this traditional foundation, creating different, pleasant movements in every song. This arrangement approach has never before been attempted and seamlessly binds each component together to create an album that is catchy, groovy and happy. It is truly Ethiopian, truly African, and truly world music.
This breakthrough musical concept has long been a dream for Abiyou, and its impending birth is an exciting moment for the band and its fans. Joining Abiyou is lead singer Setegn Atanaw, one of the premier Masinko players in the world. (The Masinko, a traditional Ethiopian instrument, is a one-stringed fiddle consisting of diamond shape wooden sound box and string made from strands of horsetail.) In addition to performing on other artists’ recordings, Setegn has written compositions for many Ethiopian artists.