Photos from Regattabar, Cambridge, MA – Either/Orchestra with Teshome Mitiku, November 10

After a hiatus of almost a year, the Either/Orchestra is swinging back into action with one of their favorite guest performers, legendary Ethiopian singer Teshome Mitiku. Teshome’s entrancing voice and lyrics meet their perfect match in the E/O’s Afro-Caribbean rhythms and rich horn arrangements.

Western pop music hit Ethiopia hard in the 1950s and 60s, and the most popular Western-style combo was the Soul Ekos, featuring the singing of Teshome. Under the guidance of Ethio-jazz creator Mulatu Astatke, Teshome and the band recorded a number of songs that have stood the test of time amongst Ethiopians worldwide. The inclusion of four of them on the prestigious “Ethiopiques, Volume 1” has introduced Teshome to an international audience in recent years.

In 1970, Teshome was forced out of Ethiopia by Emperor Haile Selassie’s government, and has lived in Sweden and the US since. In 1998, Either/Orchestra leader Russ Gershon heard Teshome’s “Yezamed Yebada” and arranged it for his Grammy-nominated 10 piece band. Teshome heard the E/O’s version on the radio in Washington, D.C., and contacted Gershon, striking up a friendship and collaboration that has yielded performances in Cambridge and New York, and also headlining the Chicago Jazz Festival in front of 20,000 people.

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