BLACK JESUS EXPERIENCE (BJX) is an eight piece band playing an irresistibly danceable blend of traditional Ethiopian song and 21st Century groove. With backgrounds as diverse as the 5 countries the members of BJX hail from, their music reflects the multicultural vibrancy of the band’s hometown, Melbourne, Australia.
Singer Enushu began entertaining her local community as a child in Addis Ababa. Forced to leave Ethiopia, Enushu migrated to Australia bringing hauntingly beautiful compositions inspired by her remarkable life story and the unique vocal traditions of Ethiopia. Enushu is joined on vocals by poetic giant and lyrical miracle Mr Monk, Zimbabwe born and Outback bred.
When not touring BJX run a weekly session at cultural hub The Horn creating new songs live on stage featuring guest artists from all walks of life. The comfort BJX has with this practice lies in the improvising traditions of that feed BJX including Hip Hop, Jazz, Azmari and Funk.
BJX’s fourth album ‘Migration’ won ‘The Age-Music Victoria Best Global Album 2014’ award. Other awards for BJX include ‘Most Outstanding Performance Troupe Of The Year, African Australian National Awards 2013’ Highlights for BJX include two tours of “the Motherland” Ethiopia, performing with Ethiojazz legend Mulatu Astatke in Europe and Australia (an association which won BJX and Mulatu ‘The Age Best National Tour 2013’ award), Glastonbury and other great festivals.
The rhymes and chimes of Black Jesus Experience deliver the power and beauty of Africa through the vocal prism of Hip-Hop and freedom of Funk.
Enushu Taye (vocals)
Hailing from Ethiopia, Enushu was only a child when she began singing for her local community. In 1992 she was forced to take refuge in Cairo. In 1996 Enushu migrated to Australia bringing to Melbourne her hauntingly beautiful compositions inspired by her remarkable life story and the unique vocal traditions of Ethiopia. Enushu co-led the group GOJAM producing two acclaimed albums ‘World In A Jam’ and ‘Back On Earth’.
Mr Monk (MC)
Of Zimbabwean/Australian heritage and known by his peers as the “lyrical miracle”, Monk represents with rhythmic flows, conscious word play and a definitive raw fire on the mike. Monk cut his teeth on stage with the pioneering live multicultural hip-hop band, Culture Connect. No stranger to the club and festival circuit in Australia, he has collaborated and performed with international touring acts Ganga Giri, Grilla Step, producer Mista Savona (Sizzla), Emdee, and jazz prodigy Aaron Choulai lending his powerful and versatile rap stylings to live reggae, jazzy beats, and electronic dance music both on record and at major dance festivals.
Tibor Bacskai (MC)
On the strength of a decade’s devotion to the art of freestyle rap, Tibor has consistently rocked guest appearances in a range of bands. He has found a home in BJX; the crew’s family ethos and roots in jazz and African poly-rhythms bring out the best in his improvisation – exultant lyrics, signature flow, percussive intonation and unfailingly downright raw expression.
Peter Harper (tenor saxophone)
Harper has been a torch-bearer for the avant-garde on four continents, as an instrumentalist and as an inspirational composer, since the early 1980’s. His searingly powerful sound manifests his longtime dedication to the practice of overtones and musical studies under Ratu Pandji, and the great Evan Parker. He has performed and recorded worldwide with Musiikki Oy, Steve Lacy, House Arrest (Paul Grabowsky), The Australian Art Orchestra, Mulatu Astatke, Egypt 80, Night Z, Something Else, Where’s Henry, The Big One, GOJAM and BLOW.
Ian Dixon (trumpet & flugelhorn)
Extensive travel and study of birdsong informs Ian Dixon’s unique approach to improvisation and composition. Ian co-led ground-breaking jazz-hiphop band ‘UTE’ in Australia and in London during the 1980’s and 90’s and is privileged to have worked with many great jazz, classical and contemporary artists in Australia, UK/Europe, America and Africa, including close working relationships with Ethiopian master musician Mulatu Astatke, with iconic German musician Irmin Schmidt (‘Can’) and Kumo, Guru (Keith Elam), Egypt 80, Kenny Garret, ‘No Man’, Max Romeo, ‘Musiikki-Oy/BLOW’, Paul Chivers aka ‘Ramjac’, Dale Barlow and Ray Vega amongst others.
Zac Lister (guitar)
Zac was obsessed with the guitar from a young age, out of this grew a passion for percussive acoustic guitar styles and the raw sound of early funk, soul and blues. Born in Tasmania, Zac’s musical roots were cultivated by his natural surroundings and a deeply supportive musical community where he began writing songs, playing in bands and performing solo with an acoustic guitar. His drive to expand his musical horizons saw him migrate north seeking out fresh challenges and diverse cultural experiences. The powerful funky African rhythms drew Zac to the Black Jesus Experience and continue to inspire him with their steadfast passion for music, culture and food.
Chris Frangou (electric bass)
Chris Frangou is immersed in a wide range of musical cultures as broadly spread as jazz, funk, rock, Balkan, hip-hop, African music, blues, Indian Classical and Middle Eastern music. This rich sonic background combined with study in New York City with Matt Garrison (Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock), Jason Lindner, Felix Pastorius and Panagiotis Andreou has fed Chris’s signature textural approach to the groove. He is also a composer and producer working with Australian and international artists including South African guitarist Valanga Khoza, Paul Reid, Klara Zubonja & Dean Ray.
Matt Head (drums)
Along with his study of groove forms and complex time signatures Matt Head’s approach embraces the production of musical and harmonic tones from his drum kit. His openness of approach and commensurate character has brought Matt swiftly to diverse performance, touring and recording situations in genres from folk and pop to contemporary jazz and hip-hop. Matt has also worked with leading Australian musicians including Bob Sedergreen, Adrian Sherriff, Jonathan Zion and composer Adam Starr.