February is Black History Month and with that comes the special appearances of historically rooted, black musicians in special collaborations, such as the “Ethnic Heritage Ensemble”. Named Percussionist of the Year in 2002, Kahil El’Zabar heads up the group in February and takes off on a nation-wide tour. The “Black History Month Tour” kicks off in Chicago at “Hothouse”, this Friday, the 7th and goes through the whole month and into March.
Chicago's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble has consistently turned out a superb blend of African rhythms and avant-garde, post-bop jazz for 20 years. A part of Chicago's new Black Arts Movement, the EHE's music has, to this point, been about the interaction of two horns and a drum. Founder and spiritual center Kahil El'Zabar lays down an earthy polyrhythmic groove on drums, percussion, or thumb piano. Ari Brown on reeds and piano and saxman Ernest "Khabeer" Dawkins dance within and without El'Zabar's spiritual rhythms in an ever-evolving democratic conversation. As in all human relations, the result is sometimes gentle and warm, sometimes clashing and sharp, and occasionally out of control. But it is the spontaneous and dynamic interplay of the individuals as a group, the passion and heart of the musicians as they interrelate, that defines the EHE's sound. Relying on original compositions and traditional African-American songs, the EHE has crafted a unique style over the years, a sound that one commentator has stated, "imparts an ancestral wisdom and conjures an energy and spark rarely encountered in contemporary music."
Kahil has a number of other bands that he travels with such as “Tri Factor”, with Billy Bang on Violin and Bluiett on Sax; and the “Ritual Trio”, featuring Malachi Favours on Bass, Ari Brown on reeds and piano, and frequent special guest Pharaoh Sanders on sax. The “JUBA Collective” is the most recently formed group that is a very unique and interesting blend of Live House Music, Spoken Word, and Live Art. To say the least, Kahil’s projects span the global music scene with penetrating old and new vibes.
Definitely a can’t miss performance!!
Check out these links for more on Kahil and the “Ethnics”: