23/04/2019Tel Aviv's Hoodna Orchestra Ready Ethiojazzy Studio Album #2

Widely heralded as one Israel's best live bands, Tel Aviv's Hoodna Orchestra is a musical force to be reckoned with. Last Friday, the brassy collective, composed of 11-14 members, officially released its second studio album "Ofel" on trusted German imprint Agogo Records and we are absolutely, positively dazed. The album was recorded live in the group's self-built home studio with guitarist and composer Ilan Smilan in charge of the entire production (recording, mixing and mastering). 

Established in 2012, the group has meanwhile become an integral part of the Tel Aviv groove scene. Early on, they focussed mainly on elements from afrobeat and afrofunk, while fusing different musical styles and developing a wall of sound that speaks for itself. Following the release of their 2015 debut album "Let Go", the orchestra went on to launch a new show entitled "The Ethiobeat Orchestra" and ventured even deeper into the "study of East African music and the rich culture of Ethiopian music in particular". Then, in 2017, they dropped their 7" single "Yelben (featuring Tesfaye Negatu)", the "first in a series of collaborations with Ethiopian singers and musicians", and subsequently released "Alem", a collab with singer/poet Demisu Belete. 

"Ofel", meaning darkness in Hebrew, "is a concept album that includes nine instrumental pieces written and arranged by Ilan Smilan," one of which happens to be a brilliant cover of Prodigy's "Breathe". The album further explores the potent combination of African/Ethiopian music, afrobeat and ethiojazz with nuances of rock, funk and Israeli/Mediterranean music. The orchestra expertly employs Ethiopian minor scales, i.e. Anchihoye "associated with religious singing" or "songs of war" and Tezeta, "used to express wishes, dreams and feelings of nostalgia and sentimentality". That and the method of recording on analog equipment makes for an ominously intense atmosphere that will engage listeners from start to finish. Head over to Bandcamp for the full experience and/or check out the video to title track "Ofel" below. 

Hoodna Orchestra are
Elad Gelert (baritone saxophone) 
Rom Shani (alto saxophone) 
Eylon Tushiner (tenor saxophone) 
Uri Selinger (trombone) 
Asaf Oseasohn (trumpet) 
Sefi Zisling (trumpet)
Arthur Krasnobaev (trumpet)
Tomer Zuk  (keyboards)
Amir Sadot (bass guitar) 
Ilan Smilan (electric guitar) 
Matan Asayag (drums) 
Rani Birenbaum (percussion) 
Shahar Ber (percussion) 
Raz Eytan (percussion) 

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom