The U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band Jazz Combo performed with members of the Ethiopian Land Forces band at the U.S. Embassy dedication ceremony, February 8, 2011, in Addis Ababa.
Six members of the Jazz Combo arrived three days before the ceremony to rehearse traditional American jazz and Ethiopian musical selections with Ethiopian musicians.
"This is the first time on the African continent for most of us," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Jason McDonough, a drummer in the Jazz Combo. "The rehearsals and performance were challenging for us, but we like challenges and had a lot of fun."
Despite the unfamiliar surroundings and language barrier, the musicians were able to communicate their experience and learn from each others' cultures.
"I feel we've been able to learn a great deal from these young men," said Captain Sisay Fekadu, a saxophone player with Land Forces band. "To play an event like this with skilled Jazz musicians is a rewarding experience for us."
The Land Forces band only had limited availability to the style of Jazz music until recently and seized the opportunity of playing with the Navy Jazz Combo.
The dedication ceremony was attended by various staff members of the embassy. Guest speakers at the reception included Michael Battle Sr., U.S. Ambassador to the African Union, and Donald E. Booth, the U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, who spoke highly of the musical performances exhibited by the musicians.
"We're delighted to have the Jazz Combo performing from their American Jazz repertoire," said Booth. "It's also been an honor to have members of the Ethiopian Land Forces band joining them on a number of the musical selections tonight."
Both bands thought the event was a success and felt that event like this brought them together both musically and professionally.
"The success is in the event itself," said Master Chief Petty Officer Willie Harris, who conducted both the rehearsals and embassy performance. "An event like this is a way for everyone involved to grow both musically and professionally."