Zengadyw Dereku could be a piece of old Memphis soul if Mergia’s bubbling workmanship and the highlife guitar tone weren’t there; Endegena is something Matthew E. White may find admirable, even though his keys technique is very much his own.
The attenuated Gumegum, best known in the recording by renowned Ethiopian singer Hirut Bekele, is a space-age, quasi-pop treat. The Fela-like Atmetalegnem Woi features some superbly lyrical sax phrasing, while Ou-Ou-Ta is a glossy, double-time waltz with whammy guitar.
There are times when an arrangement, such as on the closer Aya Belew Belew, alludes to something that isn’t actually there, especially a vocal, but those instrumental fills feel vital and substantial.
There is already a ton of proof, but Tezeta emphasizes Mergia’s status as an older statesman of contemporary Ethiopian music and the Walias Band’s distinction as more than just supporting actors. Along with guitar, bass, drums, and Mergia’s organ and synth, the ensemble also includes unassuming ensemble musicians including tenor and alto saxes, trumpet, flute, and piano.