The Hoodna Orchestra is a 12-member orchestra who studies and investigates the African origins of western popular music. The Orchestra was formed in 2012, on the south side of Tel Aviv, by a group of musicians. It functions as a collective and as a record label.
Hoodna’s musical director is the guitarist and composer Ilan Smilan. The cultural and musical environment that surrounds the group has a great effect on its creative process. Exposure to Ethiopian’, Eritrean and Arabic musical traditions, coupled with an ongoing study and exploration of different jazz styles, creates a unique blend which has made The Hoodna Orchestra one of the most appreciated and sought-after live shows in Israel. Between 2012 and 2015, The orchestra played every major festival in Israel, as well as all the main venues around the country.
In June 2015 the Orchestra launched its debut album titled Let Go. While working on the album and the show, the orchestra collaborated with many great artists (Kutiman, Karolina, Estrer Rada, Gili Yalo). At the end of 2015 the Orchestra debuted a new show titled The
Ethiobeat Orchestra. It featured the members of ensemble Adyabo, and the singer Tesfaye Negatu as well as the dancer/choreographer Aviv Yosef. This project signals the next phase in the Orchestra’s evolution, delving deeper into east African music, particularly the different styles of Ethiopian music, which inspired many new compositions and a lot of exciting new collaborations.
In 2016 the orchestra began working on a new album. While taking its time and experimenting with vintage recording equipment and different acoustics, the orchestra is determined in its search for a unique and original sound. This DIY process and approach places a lot of freedom and control in the hands of the musicians involved, and is aimed to allow for more genuine artistic expression.
During February 2017 a new single was launched, the song YELBEN was the 1st in a series of collaborations with Ethiopian singers and musicians. YELBEN (my heart in Amharic) was performed by the singer Tesfaye Negatu, and was released as a 7″ single. The 2nd release in the series was the song ALEM (A World in Amharic) which was written and sung by the singer and poet Demisu Belete. ALEM was launched at the red sea jazzfestival 2017. Both songs were recorded and mixed in the HOODNA MUSIC studio in Tel Aviv. The work was mostly done on analog vintage gear and the sound is a respectful nod to the golden age of ethio-jazz and pop that came out of Addis Ababa in the 60’s and 70’s.
In the summer of 2018 Hoodna was invited to play at the Africa Tage festival in Vienna. The show featured the singers Tesfaye Negatu and Yaakov Lilay and marked the ending of an era in the orchestra’s life cycle. In September 2018 the Hoodna released its new album OFEL
(darkness in Hebrew) in Israel with a special show at the Teder club in Tel Aviv.
The concept album OFEL was written and arranged by Ilan Smilan, the orchestra’s musical director. The album was recorded in a studio that was created and designed by the musicians in the band for this purpose. On the album the orchestra continues to express itself through many traditions and folklore they have been exploring over the years and seem to find a new and more personal voice in those dark and expressive compositions. A lot of the sound and attitude of OFEL is influenced by Rock, Funk and Punk and this new phase in the band’s artistic direction was received with great enthusiasm both in Israel and abroad.
OFEL is due to be released worldwide in 2019 via the German label AGOGO Records.
Eylon Tushiner – Tenor Sa
Uri Selinger- Trombone
Elad Gelert – Baritone Sax
Elinoam Warshavsky- Alto Sax
Tomer Zuk – Keyboards
Amir Sadot – Bass Guitar
Ilan Smilan – Electric Guitar
Matan Asayag – Drums
Rani Birenbaum – Percussion
Shahar Ber – Percussion
Raz Eytan – Percussion