Henock Temesgen is one of the most prolific Ethiopian bass players and has toured and recorded with all the legendary Ethiopian singers such as Aster Aweke, Mahmoud Ahmed, Gigi, Tilahun Gesesse and Tewodros Tadesse, to name a few. Henock studied at the Berkeley College of music in Boston where he graduated with a degree in performance and jazz composition. After completing his studies he moved to New York City where he participated in the vibrant jazz scene there. Over the years Henock has recorded with many Ethiopian artists both as a leader and as a sideman including his own Ethiojazz group called Adams. Henock returned to Ethiopia in 2006 after living for 26 years in the USA. On his return he got together with a group of like-minded musicians and they decided to found the Jazzamba School of Music. After founding the school they also decided to open the Jazzamba Lounge to promote Ethiopian music in the city. The club quickly became the most popular music venue in the city but burned down in a fire in 2015. Henock is one of the most active musicians in Addis Ababa and one of the most experienced music educators in the country.
Abegasu Kibrework Shiota was born in Japan and raised in Ethiopia. He studied piano, jazz composition and performance at the Berkeley College of Music in Boston. After completing his studies he moved to New York City where he lived and worked for almost 20 years before returning to Ethiopia. He runs his own studio in Addis Ababa and is one of the most sought after producers in the country having recorded hundreds of albums working as a musician, composer, producer and arranger with the likes of Aster Awoke, Tewodros Tadesse, Ephrem Tamiru, Niway Debebe, Hamelmal Abate and Tewodros Kassahun, Shewandagn Hailu, Teddy Afro and the Roha Band featuring Ephrem Tamiru to mention just a few. Almost every successful music album that has been released in Ethiopia over the last decade bears his name and he has made a huge contribution to the growth of quality contemporary music in Ethiopia. On his return to Ethiopia he teamed up with the other founders of the Jazzamba School of Music. Nowadays, he is busy with different projects and spends most of his time in his studio, producing, writing, arranging, editing and recording an average of five albums every year.
Yonas Gorfe was born and raised in Addis Ababa. He had his first music lessons from a Swedish missionary living in Entoto and learned to play the guitar, piano, violin and trumpet. Upon graduating from high school he attend Yared Music School, but was unable to complete his degree due to the political situation in the country. He travelled instead to Finland and completed a diploma program for youth work and music. In 1991 he moved to Canada and received his degree as a recording engineer at the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology. He then moved to Vancouver and lived there for four years working for Roger’s Cable TV and doing sound work for various tv productions. In 1995 Yonas returned to Ethiopia with his Canadian wife and ran the music department of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Mekane Yesus, leading choirs and training choir leaders and church musicians. He also had a gospel band, AFG, which performed regularly in Addis Ababa and later in Europe. In 2000 Yonas was involved with the re-establishment of the Mekane Yesus music program, and he played a major role in making the School of Jazz what it is today. He also taught Ethiopian music history and choir there for many years. Yonas has also been a strong advocate for young musicians, particularly Christian musicians in their battles against the Christian establishment. His book Bet Yataw Betegna, released in April 2015, deals with those struggles.
Girum Mezmur has been a mainstay in Addis Ababa’s live music scene as a guitarist, bandleader, and producer/arranger and recording artist for the past decade. Girum has performed and recorded with the who’s who of Ethiopian music including Aster Aweke, Tewodros Tadesse, Ali Birra, and Mahmoud Ahmed appearing in major festivals worldwide such as WOMAD, Montreal Jazz, Roskilde, WOMEX, TFF Rudolstadt, and Sauti sa Busara. He has also performed and recorded with international African artists such as Angelique Kidjo, Ray Lama, and Ali Keita. Girum Mezmur is the founder and musical director of the “Addis Acoustic Project” one of Addis Ababa’s most influential jazz groups which is responsible for reviving the vintage sounds of Ethiopian music from the 1950’s and 60’s influenced by Jazz, Latin and East African musical traditions (Tewesta Album/Harmonia Mundi-World Village label 2011). His is an experienced music educator having taught at the Mekane Yesus Seminary Jazz School (2003-2009), the Jazzamba Music School which he co-founded (since 2009), and the Yared Music School-AAU (since 2011). Girum Mezmur has conducts educational workshops in Ethiopia, as well as other African countries including Burundi, Djibouti, and Ghana. Since 2013 Girum has been an integral part of the teaching staff of the Global Music Academy (GMA) in Berlin which is developing an innovative new curriculum for African music. He is responsible for developing the guitar curriculum for the Global Music Campus and teaches at the bi-annual Global Music Campus in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Abiy Woldemariam was born and grew up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He started learning and playing music at the Holy Savior Catholic church choir in Addis Ababa. The first instrument he played was the 5 or 6 stringed ‘Kirar’ lyre, one of the most popular Ethiopian instruments before turning to piano and organ. During his philosophy studies he performed with the university band. He also studied jazz at the EECMY Jazz School. After finishing school he started teaching piano and ear training at Jazz Amba School of Music. He also teaches the same subjects at EECMY. He is currently Music Director at Jazzamba and continues to teach at the school as well. Abiy is also developing the piano curriculum for the Global Music Campus and is intimately involved with curriculum design for the program the GMA is developing. He is interested in experimenting with new approaches to music both as a performer and educator. Abiy has performed regularly in Addis since 2008 with his own band called ‘Meleket’ and also performs with many other Ethiopian groups in Addis Ababa.