The Ethiopiques series seems intent on becoming all things Ethiopian. This branches out, once again, from the classic vintage material that's been the hallmark of the albums, and marks a collaboration between four European jazz musicians -- all with conservatory training -- and Ethiopian musicians, most of whom work with the National Theater or Circus Ethiopia. It's the Ethiopian elements very much in the ascent here, with the Europeans doing a very good job of following, although they rarely seem to take the lead, letting the washint flute and messenqo fiddle push ahead. However, the mix of cultures and instruments is a very fertile one, getting an angular, bluesy feel at time, reminiscent in parts of Captain Beefheart, especially on the opener, "Bati." But the shining star of the whole affair is singer Yezinna Negash, whose voice has a supremely moving quality that almost becomes luminous. But the other singer, Guennet Masresha, also possesses plenty of talent -- maybe it's something in the air, as "Mèdo Hané" offers a tenderness the West rarely captures. The album is jazz, but it also steps beyond that into something that defies easy description, and simply communicates joy.