BLACK JESUS EXPERIENCE (BJX) is a nine 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.
They have recently released their 5th studio album, a collaboration with their long time mentor, the inventor of Ethio-Jazz: Mulatu Astatke. The album Cradle of Humanity was recorded and mixed across 3 continents and completed at the end of their East Africa tour in 2015, including performances at MTN Bushfire Festival (Swaziland), AZGO Festival (Mozambique) and African Union Expo (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia).
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.
Bob Sedergreen (Piano/Keys)
Jazz great Bob Sedergreen listed in the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, winner Ken Myers and Don banks Music Awards.
Toured with Milt Jackson, Nat Adderley, Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Witherspoon, Phil Woods, represented Australia at European Jazz Festivals with the Brian Brown Quartet, and Montreal International Jazz Festival with Onage.
Led Blues On The Boil and multicultural pioneers Art Attack.
Recorded with Don Burrows, James Morrison, Brian Brown OAM, Allan Brown OAM, Dr Tony Gould and Ted Vining.
Artistic Director of Montsalvat Jazz Festival 1994-92, Adjunct Professor at VCA , Conservatorium of Music (UOM), NMIT and RMIT.
Published music author.
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.
James Davies (drums)
Starting his musical journey at a young age in Northern Victoria, James Davies moved to Melbourne to pursue a career and undertake a Bmus at Box Hill Institute. While studying with some of Melbourne’s finest teachers, including Tony Floyd and Robi Parolin, playing in a variety of bands saw James develop a widely informed stylistic approach in any genre. Blending the rhythms of North Africa with Jazz, Drum&Bass and Funk in BJX is the rhythmic epitome of his experience. Outside of BJX, James has worked with some of Melbourne’s leading Jazz musicians including: Bob Venier, Geoff Kluke, & Craig Schneider.
- Glastonbury (UK)
- Big Chill (UK)
- City Of London Festival (UK)
- Dashen Music Festival (Gonder, Ethiopia)
- African Union Expo (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
- Wasserfest (Berlin, Germany)
- Summer Jazz (Hamburg, Germany)
- Park Life (UK)
- WOMAD (Australia)
- Big Day Out (Australia)
- Wide Open Space (Australia)
- Global Carnival (Australia)
- Songlines (Australia)
- AWME (Australia)
- Golden Plains (Australia)
- Melbourne International Jazz Festival (Australia)
- Brisbane International Jazz Festival (Australia)
- MONA FOMA (TAS Australia)
- Brisbane Arts Festival (Australia)
- Fremantle Arts Festival (Australia)
- Moomba International Arts Festival (Australia)
- Strawberry Fields (Australia)
- Island Vibe (Australia)
- BJX Europe/UK 2009 & 2011
- BJX Ethiopia 2009 & 2011
- Mulatu Astatke with BJX Australia 2010 & 2013
(Winner of ‘The Age Best National Tour’)
- Mulatu Astatke with BJX UK 2011
- Mulatu Astatke with BJX Aus/New Zealand 2011
- Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin, Germany)
- Molotov (Rieperbahn, Germany)
- Club Alize (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
- Momo (London UK)
- Arts Centre (Melbourne, Australia)
- Festival Centre (Adelaide, Australia)
- The Powerhouse (Brisbane Australia)
- The Famous Spiegeltent (Bris & Melb, Australia)
- The Basement (Sydney Australia)
- The Horn (Melb, Australia)
“Black Jesus Experience is as unforgettable as its name…”
– Peter Burdon, Blaze
“They had the whole audience in the palm of their hands dancing along to their Ethiopian/Jazz influenced beats and melodies.”
– Clemmie, Pressure Cooker (WOMADelaide)
“Traditional Ethiopian song, jazz, funk and hip hop are transformed by Black Jesus Experience into a cascading collection of sights and sounds. The galvanising element of this nine-piece Australian ensemble is petite Ethiopian Enushu, who radiates warmth and sings songs of her homeland in a pure, sweet voice. BJX beat out rhythms that had the audience leaping to its feet. They sang and freestyled about Adelaide, slavery and the fact we’re all on earth under one sky.”
– Louise Nunn, The Advertiser
“Adelaide spirituality was awakened when Melbourne based, Ethiopian-inspired band Black Jesus Experience played the Festival Centre, much to the joy of everyone present. It was the band’s first return to our city since playing WOMADelaide in 2009, and their reception was very deserving! It didn’t take long for the masses to warm up the dance floor, and the sensational sounds of East Africa elated the hearts of all the eager punters. The Ethiopian influence oozed through the air, making it thick and sultry and inducing you to groove. “It was an amazing show and I can’t wait to see these guys again.”
– Rip It Up
“Black Jesus Experience created a warm and potent ensemble sound blending Afro-Latin rhythms, improvised jazz solos and the exotic five tone scales that are integral to Ethiopian music. “The grooves were heady, the basslines thick and the horn voicings pungent, the overall effect of Sunday’s concert was a seductive invitation into a unique sound world.”
– Jessica Nicholas, The Age
“BJX gave a tremendous performance as part of this year’s City of London Festival. They are such an exciting collaboration and a unique exponent of Melbourne’s thriving music scene. Their combination of hip-hop vocals, Ethiopian song and Melbourne jazz enchanted the audience. We will have them back in Blighty anytime!”
– Ruth Oakley, City of London Festival
“Ethiopian flavoured music has certainly taken root Down Under. Black Jesus Experience,..(an) excellent Australian band exhibiting the influence, boasts unimpeachable bona fides, having forged an association with the founding father of so-called Ethiojazz, Mulatu Astatke. Not only that, but by adding other elements, primarily hip hop, the Melbourne collective has arguably established a vibrant new variation on the Ethiopian experience.”
– Tony Hillier, Rhythms Magazine (profile)
“Black Jesus Experience, a terrific horn-driven band fronted by a dynamic Ethiopian songstress.”
– Tony Hillier, Rhythms Magazine (Live Reviews)