November 17, 2013 – Ethio Cali Plays Semena Werk (aka Wax and Gold): Ethiopian Songs Curated by Sonny Abegaze – Blue Whale, Little Tokyo, Downtown Los Angeles, CA

Playing with Todd Simon’s Ethio Cali Ensemble at The Blue Whale in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo on Sunday, November 17. Ethio Cali will play music from the Wax & Gold (aka Semena Werq) period selected by group co-founder and peripheral bandmate Sonny Abegaze. The group will feature a string section for the first time.

Wax & Gold Flyer 5Image

Thank you to all our old and new friends who joined us last month for the first night of our monthly residency at the Blue Whale.  It was a magical night performing the Mulatu of Ethiopia album with legendary saxophonist Justo Almario.

This month, Ethio Cali will invoke the spirit of ‘Semena Werq’ (aka Wax and Gold) and perform a new set of songs from the catalogues of Hailu Mergia & Walias, Alemayehu Eshete, The Police Orchestra, and other luminaries of Ethio Jazz.  Semena Werq is a form of traditional Ethiopian poetry that has one surface meaning, known as wax, and multiple hidden meanings, known as gold.  Musicians have used Semena Werk to explore topics such as spirituality, politics, and matters of the heart.  We look forward to exploring the many layers of meaning contained within the music we will be performing.

For this performance, we will also feature an amazing string section for the first time.  Please join us for what promises to be another special night. 

Todd Simon’s Ethio Cali Ensemble Plays Wax & Gold (Semena Werq)
Curator: Sonny Abegaze
Sunday, November 17, 2013
123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St #301
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 620-0908

Commentary: The technique of “Wax & Gold” is the basic double entendre structure of Ethiopian poetry where in addition to the obvious meaning of the text (wax) there is also another meaning (gold) hidden within the poem. Qene (or qiné) are the poetic forms used during this interpretation but during the Derg (1974 – 1987), semena werq often enabled singers to criticize the government without upsetting the censors. Semena Werq is used here to group the diverse range of Ethiopian musical expression that we will attempt to play.


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