Thursday nights at Jupiter International Hotel – Cazanchise (Kazanchies) is Smooth Jazz Live Music Night with the “Four Stars Band, Bibisha & Company.”
Set in the classy ground floor lounge of the hotel, the volume is loud enough to mask the distracting conversations of others but not too loud to have your own. On the other hand, the music is so mesmerising that one may want to avoid talking in order to enjoy the sublime atmosphere.
There is food and drink available at the bar and there are comfortable sofa-like chairs arranged around the room. The place is not too crowded, but there are not many seats, so one might want to get there early, especially to snag a good seat near the band. The music officially starts at 7:00pm and continues for an hour and a half.
Bibisha Tefferi plays a confidant lead guitar that can get a little experimental or even cocky at times. After all, he is the one who brought everyone together from different bands, himself coming from the band Ethiostar.
The dreamy sounds of bassist Frew Mengiste provides the main support for the band’s unique jazz sound. This support is rendered to the newest member of the band among others, Aklilu “Johnny” W. Yohannes who plays his saxophone with such devotion and soul that he appears to be making sweet love to it. He is a freelance musician who seamlessly fits into whatever band he plays with. Many may remember him playing with Nubian Ark during the Ethiopian Music Festival at National Theatre or Ethio-Francaise Alliance.
Abiyi Ford (Prof) spices up the jazz with some lively conga drum playing, varying the rhythmic subtleties from barely audible to an unstoppable solo. Coming from Addis Abeba University, this professor is a serious drumming machine.
The Four Stars’ drum set is occupied by the formidable Teferi Assefa. Watching him play is like watching a technician at work or a pilot operating the many controls surrounding him in the cockpit of jumbo jet.
More than once during the short hour and a half performance, he is libel to go into a full solo while switching it up between various rhythmic instruments. He will even put on a traditional keberu worn over the shoulder and under the arm without skipping a beat. He will then play that drum with the traditional curved drumstick and then put it away beside him while seamlessly keeping the beat with his foot and other hand during these operations.
Just when you think Teferi is finally about to finish the song with a closing drum line, the rest of the band breaks out of their hibernation in unison, with bravado.
In the centre of it all is Dawit Yifru on the keyboard, from the band Roha, who adds a playful, sort of nonchalant tune to the mix. Watching him busily play his keyboard, it may seem as if he is really an experienced doctor completing a complicated operation that he has done so many times before he could do it in his sleep.
The stars of the band like to switch it up with friends from the audience. On Thursday, April 15, 2010, Teferi invited Ashenafi Ali from Yeha Band to the drum set twice and let him whittle away a few songs with the band. Bibisha also took a break from playing to give the young Girum Gizaw from the band Meleket a chance to entertain the mixed audience for that night.
With the number of newcomers in the band, they may soon have to change their name to count all the stars currently playing in or at least with the band.