Addis Acoustic Project
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Addis Acoustic Project

Addis Ababa, Ādīs Ābeba, Ethiopia | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | MAJOR

Addis Ababa, Ādīs Ābeba, Ethiopia | MAJOR
Established on Jan, 2008
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"Swing State: Jazz-Mad Ethiopia Rejoices at a Musical Revival"

Walking into the jazzamba lounge in Addis Ababa as it readies for a Friday night is like stumbling into a gig by an Ethiopian Buena Vista Social Club. The venue is hung with low-lit golden chandeliers, candles dot the tables, the barman is flirting with the waitresses, and on stage, running through its discordant but not unappealing set, is a jazz band comprising seven musicians: a drummer, percussionist, guitarist, bassist, keyboard player and, sitting on stools out front, an elderly mandolin player and an equally aged singer.
My host, club co-owner Samuel Gezahegn, snaps his fingers for fresh beers and indicates I should sit. "The singer is Girma Negash, a legend from the old days," says Gezahegn. "He drives a cab today. Can you imagine?" Gezahegn points to the mandolin player. "Ayele Mamo: the only guy in Ethiopia who plays mandolin, and he's been playing 52 years." The band, I learn, is the Addis Acoustic Project. And just when I think this can't get any cooler, it does: midsong, Negash steps forward, microphone in hand, and points and smiles at me like Tony Bennett.
Africa might worship hip-hop, but Addis digs jazz — and has done so since it was first introduced in the 1920s by the imperial court. In the 1960s, Addis was jumping: Duke Ellington gigged there and the city had its own sound, Ethiojazz, a fusion of jazz and Ethiopian folk pioneered by percussionist Mulatu Astatke.
The music died in 1974, when the Stalinist Derg regime deposed Emperor Haile Selassie and banned almost every type of freedom, including a musical form based on improvisation. But jazz began a cautious revival after the Derg's overthrow in 1991. Bars began slowly staging jazz nights again. Interest was generated among overseas jazz fans through the cult success of Ethiopiques, French compilations of Ethiojazz recordings from the 1950s and '60s. (The first collection was released in the late 1990s and the series is now on Volume 27.) Then three new jazz schools opened. An annual jazz event, the Acacia festival, was launched.
(See pictures of Ethiopiques.)
What Ethiojazz lacked was a permanent home — until Jazzamba's opening in June. Addis now has its first seven-nights-a-week live-jazz venue, and the club represents a rebirth not just for the stars of yesterday but also for the building itself: a former ballroom in the old town attached to Ethiopia's oldest hotel, the Taitu. The space, which had been derelict for 20 years, is alive again, thanks to the music and an excellent chef. "We've been full every night," says Gezahegn. "It's the talk of the town."
Jazzamba is open nightly, from 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. The Addis Acoustic Project plays every Friday; phone Jazzamba's manager, Ermias, at (251) 912 047 614 to book a table. Also check out whatsoutaddis.com for a full rundown of that month's gigs.
- TIME Magazine-Travel


"Quick spin: ‘Tewesta “Remembrance” by Addis Acoustic Project"

Much in the spirit of Cuba’s Buena Vista Social Club, this six-piece ensemble from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa breathes new life into the music of a bygone era: the pre-electronic sounds popular during the twilight of Emperor Haile Selassie’s reign in the 1950s and ’60s. Warm, subdued and nostalgic, each of the 15 tracks is built on an uncluttered bed of rhythms furnished by traditional percussion and double bass. Jazz- and folk-inflected arrangements leave ample room for agile but unhurried exchanges between the band’s leader, guitarist Girum Mezmur, and its mandolin, accordion and clarinet players.

European, Middle Eastern and Central African themes percolate throughout the album. A plea for national harmony, “Selam Yihoun Lehoulachin,” showcases mandolinist Ayele Mamo, who appeared on the original hit version in the 1960s, and has something of an Anglo-Celtic lilt. “Ambassel,” featuring mandolin and accordion, named for both a musical mode and a well-known African folk song, blends Balkan and Latin elements. “Yene Hassab” is an Armenian love song; a pair of tracks originated in Sudan, Ethiopia’s neighbor. The warm, breezy melody of “Fikir Ayarejim” is supplied by its composer, Sudanese oud player Ahmed Elmak.

A few numbers, such as the stirring party anthem “Alemoush Mambo,” feature vocals. The focus here, however, is on the spirited interplay among the band’s instrumentalists, and maybe nowhere so much as on “Yigermal,” an Ethiopian folk song galvanized by a gamboling pas de deux written for clarinet and mandolin.— Bill Friskics-Warren

Recommended tracks:

“Selam Yihoun Lehoulachin,” “Fikir Ayarejim,” “Yigermal” - The Washington Post


"Tewesta by Addis Acoustic Project"

Timelessness comes in a variety of guises. For Addis Acoustic Project (AAP) bandleader Girum Mezmur, it comes by following a path many other intelligent and ambitious musicians have followed recently: synthesis of old and new. Mezmur also arranged these visionary rediscoveries. He says in the liner notes to the Tewesta album: “The essence of this project is about presenting the music of that era [the ’50s and ’60s] in an authentic manner, yet with a new twist.” “Tewesta” means “remembrance” in Amharic, and what Mezmur has done on AAP’s debut, after two years of sharpening their sound through live performance, is remarkable.

This music is a seamless re-imagining of a nation’s musical history, teasing out different vectors of sound possibility through the updated sound, allowing other musical idioms to seep through. While Mezmur was also devoted to “preserving the sound and instrumentation of those days,” his vibrant arrangements allow for different aspects of the world of music to meld with traditional Ethiopian music, this exploration allowed by the downplayed importance of vocals and the focus on instrumental music. Consider “Fikir Ayarejim,” which translates to “Love is Eternal.” Popularized by Sudanese singer Menelik Wossenachew, the original song is led by a sultry synthetic orchestra and casual, shuffling drums, standard fare for Ethiopian oldies pop.

The AAP remake, however, opens with Latin-tinged drums, moving into a muscular accordion and oud led groove (master Ahmed Almek on oud). The rhythm of the song maintains the upbeat quality of the original, but Mezmur allows the melody to expand significantly, though without any egoistic solos — it’s a bold move, essentially a statement of the semiotic weight of melody. Anyone intimately familiar with these songs will immediately recognize the melodies, regardless of the missing vocals. The best part about this album is that even if you don’t know the originals, you don’t need to. It’s hard not to enjoy this, conceptual ambition aside. It’s those melodies — they grab you by the collar, like an excited child in the castle of her dreams, leading you eagerly down the twisting hallways.

The Latin jazz influence is even more pronounced on “Yetintu Tiz Alegn,” which I believe translates to “Remembrance of Olden Days.” Old master Tilahun Gessesse also has a version of this track. While the first half of the track only evokes Latin rhythms, led by Ayele Mamo’s mandolin, a breakdown leads the listener straight into a minor-key, chromatic-drenched Latin guitar solo by Mezmur. Indeed, the music of AAP is about finding common ground between Ethiopian music and other genres of music, particularly jazz, Latin music, and folk. The lack of emphasis on vocals — though they are present — combined with the innovative arrangements moves AAP’s debut from purely Ethiopian music to a more universal idiom. I don’t want to call it world music, but I suppose that’s the only label available.

While maintaining an unmistakable cultural identity, Mezmur and other musicians like him are interested in creating a dialog with other genres, other nations, other time periods, and this is a trend I strongly support. AAP’s resplendent music is about communication, and aside from crossing historical and cultural bridges, they also cross the bridge to the listener’s ear. The amount of variety here is outstanding, as well as the musicianship. One eye-opening moment is, in fact, the closer — and by the way, even though the album is over an hour in length, it keeps you enthralled the whole way through — “Yigermal,” which warps 3/4 to its own whims through subtle subdivision, featuring claps on the chorus and led by mandolin and clarinet. Mezmur is a master of timbre and combines instruments perfectly for his evocative needs. Indeed, sometimes he attempts to traditionalize more than modernize: compare the eerie "Anchim Ende Lela" with a much jazzier version by Girma Degefu.

Mezmur’s take on Girma Negash’s hopeful love song "Enigenagnalen" (We Shall Meet Again), opens with a lusty, rueful guitar solo which is offset by Dawit Ferew’s mourning clarinet, painting a picture of both the beauty and futility of hope in the face of life’s circumstances. Whether the lovers meet again is not the point, only that the hope exists, that it can flower. The mambo-like rhythm drives the song forward. Nathaniel Tesemma and Mesale Legesse, who handle the percussion, are to be commended for their tight, powerful grooves, which never lack subtlety. As well, Dawit Ferew is ablaze throughout, displaying his mastery of the clarinet in the Ethiopian style. Mezmur painstakingly assembled his band —he himself handles guitar and accordion —and it pays off.

While you don’t need to know anything about the source music behind this wonderful album, I found that research into the originals gave me a greater appreciation for the brilliance of Mezmur’s arrangements and his band’s playing, as well as a deeper understanding of the context of the musical conversation AAP is trying to have. As well, I can pretty much guarantee that any musical discoveries this album leads to will be golden — Ethiopian music, old and new, is a veritable rabbit hole and gold mine which I recommend you delve into. For starters, there’s the Ethiopiques series. But I’ll leave that to you. For now, let me just repeat that this is an excellent album, and whether or not you’re interested in the context of Mezmur’s ideas for finding common musical ground, you won’t be disappointed.


REVIEWED BY MANUEL ABREU
MANUEL’S FAVORITE TRACKS: “Anchim Ende Lela” • “Yetintu Tiz Alegn” • “Yigermal” - Groovemine


"Renaissance of Ethiopian Music"

Renaissance of Ethiopian Music
The Story of Addis Acoustic Renaissance Group
& The Man Behind the Music

Ethiopia has a very rich music history. The 1950s and 60s produced some of the best musical talent as well as many great hits that are popular in the country even to this day. There are some who are afraid that the music of this era will soon fade away and be forgotten, giving way to music of the new generation. However, I just witnessed a group that is working hard for the renaissance of this music. They name themselves after their endeavor: “Addis Acoustic Renaissance Group”. I saw this group deliver a wonderful performance the other night at Club Alize located at the far end of Africa Avenue (Bole Road) near the airport.

Club Alize is located on the second floor and accommodates nearly 400 people. The interior of the club has a classic Far East decor and includes cozy couches on the right side of the club. The left part is mainly dominated by the bar counter. On Thursdays, there is extraordinary jazz music played here that everyone seems to enjoy. The founder and band leader of the group playing on Thursdays, i.e. the Addis Acoustic Renaissance Group, is Girum Mezmur (guitar player and composer). Other group members include Henock Temesgen (Double Bass), Dawit Ferew (Clarinet), Natnael Tessema (Drum), Shaleka Melaku Tegegn (Accordion), Mesale Legesse (Percussion), and Ayele Mamo (Mandolin). Shaleka Melaku and Ayele Mamo, musicians from the 1950s and 60s, give the group a unique image and stature.

Addis Acoustic Renaissance Group strives to improve itself by adding new arrangements frequently, a trait that seems to give the group a captivating character. On Thursdays, the club is packed with various types of people (old, young, locals, foreigners, couples, groups – you name it.) In fact, it is this quality to embrace and entertain all kinds of people that distinguishes this group from all others. This is a living proof that the same genre of music, in fact, can appeal to various age groups and to people from all walks of life.

Addis Acoustic Renaissance Group’s jazz night is a place that appealed to me for some time now. They play tasteful and classic music from the 1950s and 60s in a way that entertains even those who have no clue about the Ethiopian music of that era.

Girum, the founder and leader of this group is only 34 years old. However, he has already left his mark as a lead guitarist and arranger in many well-known bands and records in Addis Ababa. Propelled by formal education from Yared Music School, Girum went on to hone his skills by joining the Axumite Band and later the Coffee House Club. Girum has been performing at the Coffee House as a jazz band leader and guitarist, also introducing the concept of jam session, where guest musicians in the house were welcome and encouraged to join the house band to perform on the spot. His weekly performances there over the past decade have been known to have influenced the live jazz scene in Addis Ababa to date.

Girum has also composed and arranged music for many artists, films, radio programs, and documentaries. Currently, he is involved in several bands and has traveled to various parts of the world, including countries in Africa, Europe, and North-America with major Ethiopian acts such as Mahmoud Ahmed, Aster Awoke, Teddy Afro etc. Girum has also performed with internationally-known artists such as Ray Lema and Angelique Kidjo. He has also performed at major international music festivals such as the WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance), Montreal Jazz Festival, Ethiopian Music Festival III, IV, V, VII, and several others.

I interviewed Girum recently, who welcomed me with a warm smile for our early morning interview. He is a very polite and sincere person. We discussed his childhood, his music, how he founded the group, and much more. Here follows the full interview with Girum, the founder, band leader, and guitar player of Addis Acoustic Renaissance Group.

Ezega.com: I thank you for coming to my interview.

Girum: Thank you for having me.

Ezega.com: Let me go back to the beginning of Addis Acoustic Renaissance Group. How did you start this group?

Girum: Addis Acoustic Renaissance Group did not start at one specific moment in time. I gave it some thought for a long time. I can also say that it is highly related to my musical background.

When I started music as a child, I began by playing the accordion. There was my uncle’s accordion in our home. It is this same 48 year-old accordion that we are using currently in our group today. Don’t worry; I am not 48 years old just yet! (With a smile ?). Growing up, I also watched my older brothers playing the guitar (as a hobby) and by the time I reached high school, I joined our school band as a guitarist at St. Joseph School. Later after high school, I joined the Axumite Band, where I started to play regularly and also arranged music for the band.

Over the years, as I continued to grow as a professional musician, several ideas pop-up in my mind which I tend to jot down on a regular basis. I experimented with different kinds of ideas and music as well. Ever since Alliance Ethio Francaise started organizing the Ethiopian Music Festival, we [my colleagues and I] always tried to bring something new to these concerts. One day, I saw an Ethiopian television interview with Ato Ayele Mamo, celebrating his golden jubilee (50 years of service) of Ethiopian music - playing the mandolin and composing various songs. This was one inspirational moment for me, in which I decided to somehow incorporate the mandolin into the musical project ideas I had.

As the concept of the Addis Acoustic Renaissance Group started to shape up, I decided on what instruments I would like to include in the project, i.e. double bass, Kebero/drums, clarinet, accordion, and mandolin. One thing all these instruments had in common; they were all popular in 1950’s and 1960’s in the Ethiopian music scene. In the following decades, however, these instruments became replaced by other instruments: double bass by electric bass, clarinet by saxophone, accordion with organ and electric guitar, and the mandolin almost disappeared. It was clear to me then that, if these instruments from the past were to come together in a new arrangement, they would bring something fresh and contemporary.

After sorting out what instruments to include, the next challenge was to look for the right performers for the project. I contacted all the current members of the group one by one, and they were all enthusiastic and ready to join me. We also needed to find a collection of songs that would go well with our theme. I then gathered several repertoires from music stores, radio stations, individuals, etc. and short-listed those ones we would finally include in our set list.

I also considered other aspects of our music. I wanted to make sure that the arrangements sounded authentically Ethiopian in addition to their standard feel of jazz. This ensured that our setup appealed to both Ethiopians and the international crowd alike. I tried to arrange each repertoire so that it complemented each band member’s specialty & strength, and so that each instrument was well-featured.

We launched our group and held our first performance on May 9, 2008, during the 7th Ethiopian Music Festival. Subsequently, encouraged by our success, we started playing at Club Alize on Thursday nights on a regular basis.

Ezega.com: How many of you started the band?

Girum: All seven members of our group have been present in the band from the beginning. Initially, it was a bit of a challenge for me to decide whether to use the traditional “Kebero” or the standard drum set in the group. Both have different and important characteristics depending on the context they are used in. Finally, I decided on having both instruments in the band.

Ezega.com: Among the 1950s and 1960s artists, who do you play often?

Girum: We have played repertoires by Tilahun Gessesse, Bizunesh Bekele, Tefera Kassa, Mahmoud Ahmed, Girma Negash, Baheta G/Hiwot, Ayele Mamo, Ferew Hailu and several others.

From the mid 1960s to mid 1970s, Ethiopian music arrangements were primarily dominated by wind instruments such as the trumpet and the saxophone. Many call this time the “Golden Age of Ethiopian Music”. The music before the mid 1960s, however, seemed to have been overlooked. It is our goal to resurrect the music of this great era.

Ezega.com: In your performances, you have this interactive atmosphere where you encourage the audience to sing and clap with you. I found that very interesting and entertaining. Have you also thought about inviting other musicians to play with you on occasion?

Girum: Yes, we usually encourage our audience to join us during our performances, whether it is by clapping or singing along. It makes the program lively and the audience seems to enjoy it as well. We also have plans to invite vocalists in some upcoming performances.

Ezega.com: Where is Addis Acoustic Renaissance Group heading? What’s your dream as a founder, band leader, and guitarist of the group?

Girum: Addis Acoustic Renaissance Group is very successful here in Addis. I will put every effort to make our group “Ethiopia’s Music Ambassador”. From what I see in other internationally well-known bands, I believe that we will do very well internationally. We would like to make records as well. In fact, we have already found an international record company that has received our demo very happily. We will publish our album as soon as we finalize terms of the contract. The album will then be available both on the local and international markets.

Ezega.com: Let me take you back to your childhood and your family. Did any of your childhood experience contribute to your success?

Girum: I am the last child in our family. No one in my family was a professional musician. However, my brothers have been playing instruments as a hobby. And, as I mentioned earlier, there was my uncle’s accordion in our household which I used to play.

Joining my high school band as a guitarist at St. Joseph School was also a major contributing factor for my becoming the full-time musician I am now. Upon completion of high school, I was recruited as a guitarist by the Axumite Band, my first ever professional band to play in. I played with the band six days a week at the Hilton Hotel. This was a big break for me, a chance that enabled me to improve and develop my talent. Within a year I started arranging music for the band.

At that point, I had already decided to become a professional musician, and so I joined Yared Music School. However, since there was no guitar department at Yared at the time, I decided to major in piano and minor in Kirar (a traditional stringed musical instrument). This was a challenging time for me, since I had to attend classes until 5:00 pm and play with Axumite Band until midnight. I played with this band (Axumite) for more than six years.

After six years with Axumite, I decided to start something of my own with my friends. My dream came true when I, Shewandagn Hailu, and Teddy Afro (Tewodros Kassahun) started the “Afro Sound Band”, an Ethiopian pop/jazz band. That’s where Teddy got his name, “Teddy Afro.” I can say that Afro Sound Band helped all three of us rediscover ourselves and launch our respective successful careers as musicians.

Currently, I play with various jazz and pop bands and for the last six to eight years, have been giving guitar private lessons and teaching at the Mekanissa Jazz School (for six years now). I am very satisfied and grateful when I see my students in better places. Some have become music teachers themselves. Teaching is a very rewarding career for me and I am so thankful for it. A few months ago, we started a music school of our own with bassist Henock Temesgen, Abegasu Shiota and other friends. Currently, I am fully committed to teaching, playing in different bands, working in my studio, composing music for albums, films, radio programs, and documentaries.

Ezega.com: You are now a well-known artist and I am sure you have many admirers all over. Who is your role model?

Girum: Although I have been influenced in one form or another by the various local guitarists and musicians I have encountered during my career, my major inspiration, however, has been Selam Seyoum, the lead guitarist of the popular Roha Band from the 1980s here in Ethiopia. I consider him to be one of the most influential guitar players of that time. He inspired me so much that I used to imitate most of his guitar licks as I was growing up.

Later, I was also influenced by an African-American musician named Wes Montgomery, the self-taught and renowned jazz guitarist of the 1950s and 1960s. Many people, in fact, tell me that it shows in my playing that I am highly influenced by his style. Hence, as a tribute to Wes, three years ago I organized a musical concert in his honor with my colleagues featuring some of Wes’ greatest compositions.

Ezega.com: You have worked with various bands and musicians and performed in different places. What was your biggest challenge on your career path?

Girum: As I mentioned earlier, one challenge I faced was when I joined Yared Music School and continued playing at night with the Axumite Band. It was a very hectic schedule for me to be a full-time student as well as a full-time musician at the same time.

Yared Music School enabled me to discover the academic side of this beautiful craft (theory, musical notations, etc.) which later came in very handy in my career. The piano lessons I took at Yared also allowed me to start composing music on my keyboard at home. My experience at Axumite also helped me excel with the guitar. So, I can say, although challenging, joining Yared Music School at the time was a great decision for me in the long run.

Ezega.com: You have been with music for most of your life. I wonder, at a deeper level, what does music really mean to you?

Girum: In a nutshell…Music is my life.

Ezega.com: As we are closing our interview, would you like to thank anyone?

Girum: Oh… there are so many people I can mention. But, first and foremost, I want to thank my family for listening to my call, and for the trust they placed in me; this helped me a lot. And next, it is Dawit Tsige, the bass guitarist for Axumite Band. He was the first person to recruit me to play for Axumite Band. He encouraged me to pursue my career in music. I thank him so much for that.

All of the great musicians that I have worked with and am working with at the moment, I would like to thank them for their support and encouragement.

And last, but not least, I would like to thank my wife, Amital Ermias, for her continued love and support.

Ezega.com: Any other thing you would like to add before we end our interview?

Girum: We have talked about several things so far but I would like to discuss a little about the negative outlook some have developed on contemporary Ethiopian music. This outlook, which is often fabricated by some self-made music critics, and propagated by misinformed media outlets/personalities, is something of a major concern to me as a professional musician.

We cannot deny the fact that there is a lot of music out there that we may consider substandard, but we cannot say that to all and every music. Yes, when comparing the music from the 1950s and 1960s with the current one, there certainly is a difference in the quality of the music. In the early days, it took a great deal of steps for one artist to come out with an album. Often he/she would have to go through the hierarchy of steps within an organized musical institution E.g. the National Theatre Orchestra, Imperial Body Guard Band etc. before getting recorded.

On the other hand, nowadays, with the help of technology amateur artists have been able to record music in their home studios and make available their products on the local market quickly and easily. This is often done with a major compromise to the quality of the music.

This, however, does not mean there are no great recordings coming out now either. It is just a matter of acknowledging and giving credit to those great works of art. If the critics start paying attention to not only the mediocre recordings and take time to recognize the quality work being done, along with the media broadcasting more of such works (perhaps with the help of qualified media staff with musical backgrounds), this negative outlook on our music would hopefully diminish.

A lot is happening now musically in Addis -- festivals getting stronger, great bands forming, music schools opening, young talent coming up. Now is the renaissance of the “Golden Age of Ethiopian Music”, and let us all welcome it positively!

Ezega.com: I wish you good luck and thank you for making time for my interview.

Girum: It is my pleasure. Thank you, too!

- Ezega


Discography

The Addis Acoustic Project released its debut album "Tewesta"- Remebrance" on the label Harmonia Mundi/World Village in August 2011. Additionally, a couple of AAP's live tracks have also been released on the compilation album from the 7th Ethiopian Music Festival 2008, where the group first premiered at. A few of the tracks from this compilation, "Anchim Endelela", "Ambassel", and "Ante Timeta Ene" are included in the "Audio" section.

Photos

Bio

Comprised of some of Addis Ababas finest acoustic musicians, the Addis Acoustic Project brings forth Ethiopias popular tunes from the 1950s and 1960s in a new light. Directed and arranged by guitarist Girum Mezmur, the Addis Acoustic Project unfolds vintage Ethiopian music in a fresh and contemporary way. The groups musical style has influences of traditional East-African, Jazz, and Afro-Caribbean rhythms among other styles.

The band, composed of veteran musicians such as Ayele Mamo (Mandolin), as well as contemporary musicians such as Girum Mezmur (Guitars, Accordion), Henock Temesgen (Double Bass), Nathaniel Tesemma (Drums, Percussions), Aklilu Wolde Yohannes (Clarinet, Flute), and Misale Legesse (Kebero, Percussions), produces unique sounds dear to most Ethiopians and that undoubtedly appeal to a greater world music audience.

Addis Acoustic Project presents its performance with an attempt to stay true and authentic to the styles as well as instrumentations of the 1950s Ethiopian popular music, yet introducing fresh and contemporary musical elements with ample room for spontaneity and improvisation.

Addis Acoustic Projects founder/ musical director, Girum Mezmur, has performed with the whos who of Ethiopian music including Aster Awoke, Ali Birra, Mahmoud Ahmed, Alemayehu Eshete, and Teddy Afro. His musical relationship with Mahmoud Ahmed has provided him the opportunity to tour several countries worldwide including Africa, Europe, and Canada, playing at major international music festivals such as the WOMAD, the Montreal Jazz Festival, Roskilde Festival, etc. Girum has also had the honor of participating in U.Ks 2007 BBC Radio World Music Award, appearing as Mahmoud Ahmeds guitarist. It was here where Mahmoud Ahmed won the nomination for Best Artist under the category Africa. Girum has also performed / recorded with other renown African artists such as Angelique Kidjo, Ray Lema, and Ali Keita. Girum Mezmur is also a co-founder of Jazzamba Music School and Jazzamba Lounge, as well as the yearly Acacia Jazz & World Music Festival in Addis Ababa.

Since its premiere at the 7th Ethiopian Music Festival (May 2008), the Addis Acoustic Project has been enjoying great success. The group currently performs on a weekly basis at one of Addis Ababas hip jazz spots..."Jazzamba Lounge".  The band has also performed internationally at renowned festivals and venues such as WOMEX09 in Copenhagen, Selam Festival in Stockholm, TFF Rudolstadt Festival in Germany, Tree House in Nairobi, Sauti za Busara Festival in Zanzibar, and MASA in Ivory Coast among others.

The band released its debut album "Tewesta"- Remembrance" on the world music label, Harmonia Mundi/World Village in August 2011.

Band Members