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***OUTASITE MUSICAL COLLABORATION BAND SITES
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NEW HORIZONS ENSEMBLE


Since it’s founding in 1979, New Horizons has been both critically and popularly acclaimed, as both musicians and educators -- teaching people about Jazz. Led by saxophonist Ernest Dawkins, the group includes many members of the third generation of the famous Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), trumpeter Ameen Muhammad, trombonist Steve Berry, bassist Yosef Ben Israel, guitarist Jeff Parker (also in post-rock band Tortoise), and drummer Avyeeral Ra. The group mixes avant-garde jazz with some of the older elements of traditional swing. Says the Chicago Tribune, "... There may be no form of jazz left untouched by this adventurous, high-flying ensemble." Their Howard Reich says, "This band can enlighten an audience while enthralling it." The Trib also calls the bands' 1993 recording South Side Street Songs (Silkheart Records) "...a celebratory, life-affirming work,... a profound addition to the avant-garde repertory..." They recently released their recording at the Velvet Lounge, Mother's Blue Velvet Shoes (on Dawkins' Dawk label), the group's first live album since their debut 6 years ago. Other recordings include Chicago Now (1994; also on Silkheart), and After the Dawn Has Risen...New Horizon Ensemble Live in Leverkusen (Open Mind/Sound Aspects Records).
http://search.centerstage.net/music/whoswho/NewHorizonsEnse.html


2003 NEW HORIZONS ENSEMBLE

*(as of 03/06/2003)

LEADER
ERNEST DAWKINS
 
SAXY etc
ERNEST DAWKINS
 (sax, percussion as we have yet to experience)

BONES
Steve Berry (bone, percussion as we have yet to experience)

TRUMPS
Maurice Brown
*

GUITAR
Jeff Parker

 
RHYTHM SECTION
Darius Savage – bass
Isaiah Spencer – drums

Performances
(*Often a guest performer with the band, Maurice is officially with the newest “New” Horizons Ensemble, March 2003, with the Chicago Southern African Special Initiative “The Second Step”, in Paris France.  Three years after the arrival of several South African and Mozambiquian musicians, at Ernest Dawkins’ invitation, the New Horizons Ensemble will perform in Paris, France, at the Banlieues Blues Festival, for a special project that will include a ten-day long workshop with children from different Paris suburbs and two performances – one with children and one with New Horizons Ensemble and guests)
http://www.banlieuesbleues.org

IF IN PARIS
WED APR 2 8:30PM
(in Paris at Banlieues Bleues Festival) http://www.banlieuesbleues.org


ERNEST DAWKINS' New Horizon's Ensemble avec ZIM NGQAWANA
USA - AFRIQUE DU SUD
Ernest "Khabeer" Dawkins:saxophone alto, ténor et percussions
Zim Ngqawana:saxophone alto
Maurice Brown:trompette
Steve Berry:trombone
Jeff Parker:guitare
Darius Savage:contrebasse
Isaïah Spencer:batterie
24b ERNEST DAWKINS’ New Horizon’s Ensemble with Zim Ngqawana ** Exclusive USA - South Africa For Ernest Dawkins,
former president of Chicago’s AACM the rallying cry remains “Great Black Music From the Ancient to the Future!”
Returning for an encore performance after a fantastic concert at Banlieues Bleues last year,
the saxophonist will finally raise the curtain in France, 20 years after its formation,
on one of the most passionate sextets in contemporary jazz.

More
FRENCH PRACTICE  …also reference http://www.jazzhope.com/EnglishFrenchMusicTerms.htm
Pour Ernest Dawkins, actuel président de l’AACM, le mot de ralliement reste : « Great Black Music From the Ancient to the Future !
». Après un fantastique concert l’an dernier à Banlieues Bleues, le saxophoniste est de retour,
avec son ami sud-africain Zim Ngqawana, et lève enfin le voile en France, vingt ans après sa formation,
sur un sextet des plus passionnants du jazz contemporain.

 

IF IN PARIS
SAT MAR 29 8:30PM
(in Paris at Banlieues Bleues Festival) http://www.banlieuesbleues.org
** Since Ameen Muhammad has passed from our immediate presence, Maurice Brown will be performing with New Horizons'
(*Often a guest performer with the band, Maurice Brown is officially with the newest "New" Horizons Ensemble, March 2003,
with the Chicago Southern African Special Initiative "The Second Step", in Paris France.  Three years after the arrival of
several South African and Mozambiquian musicians, at Ernest Dawkins' invitation, the New Horizons Ensemble will perform in Paris,
France, at the Banlieues Blues Festival, for a special project that will include a ten-day long workshop with children from different
Paris suburbs and two performances - one with children and one with New Horizons Ensemble and guests)


Ernest Dawkins  © Dominique Bedier  - orchestra directing
 CONCERT ACTIONS MUSICALES : "THE LAST DIASPORA"
USA
Ernest Dawkins:direction, composition, saxophone ténor et alto, clarinette,flûte, petits instruments
Alexandre Pierrepont:direction des ateliers (écriture)
Jean-Marc Bouchez:direction des ateliers (fanfare-saxophone)
Ange Laure Fando:direction des ateliers (chant)
Awa Traoré:direction des ateliers (piano)
Cheick Tidiane Fall:direction des ateliers (percussions)
Steve Berry:trombone
Isaïah Spencer:batterie
Maurice Brown:trompette
et la participation de Zim Ngqawana:saxophone alto

Am3 CONCERT ACTIONS MUSICALES ‘’THE LAST DIASPORA” *Premiere Directed by Ernest « Khabeer » Dawkins
(composition, tenor and alto saxophone, clarinet, flute, little instruments), texts, voice, brass band and percussion USA
With the students of Jacques Brel High School of La Courneuve, colleges Louise Michel in Clichy-sous-Bois,
Jean Moulin in Aubervilliers and Eugène Cotton in Blanc-Mesnil, and the Banlieues Bleues Brass Band
Weekly workshops were led from 27 September 2002 to 21 March 2003 by: Alexandre Pierrepont (writing),
Jean-Marc Bouchez (brass band), Ange Fandoh (voice), Awa Traoré (piano), Cheick Tidiane Fall (percussion).
Residence from 22 to 29 March with the members of the New Horizon Ensemble: Steve Berry (trombone),
Isaïah Spencer (drums), Maurice Brown (trumpet) and Ernest Dawkins (composition, saxophone, musical direction).
Ernest Khabeer Dawkins, musician and former president of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM),
the legendary collective of African-American artists founded in Chicago in the 1960s, has created an original piece of music
for a large group of singers and instrumentalists based on texts written by the youth of Seine-Saint-Denis.
The theme of this commissioned work: The connection between music and people that links the African continent to Chicago
and the Paris region through the African Diaspora.

PRACTICE YOUR FRENCH  …also reference http://www.jazzhope.com/EnglishFrenchMusicTerms.htm
 Il y a peu encore, la ville de Chicago regorgeait de bruits et de sons, avec ses bonimenteurs,
ses vendeurs à la criée, ses orchestres de rue jouant le blues, le rhythm & blues, la soul et le jazz d' un même élan.
C'est cette polyphonie urbaine qui a profondément marqué l' enfance du jeune saxophoniste, pour qui le mot de ralliement reste:
"Great Black Music From the Ancient to the Future". Pilier de la scène de Chicago depuis plus de 20 ans,
Ernest Dawkins a réuni autour de lui une phalange d' anciens condisciples de la confrérie musicale de l'A.A.C.M.
(Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians), quelques nouveaux venus comme Jeff Parker et Darius Savage,
et son vieil ami Zim Ngqawana, étourdissant saxophoniste Sud-Africain intime des sonorités africaines, mais qui a aussi
étudié avec Archie Shepp. Le New Horizon's Ensemble était à l'origine une formation que les élèves issus de l'AACM se devaient de créer,
en guise d' aboutissement de leur cursus musical, et associe aujourd'hui un sens éblouissant de la forme
et de la propulsion avec tous les défis du free, afin, préc ise Dawkins, de ne pas morc eler "ce qui est d'un seul tenant,
le continuum essentiel de nos musiques." Après un éblouissant concert l'an dernier à Banlieues Bleues,
Ernest Dawkins est de retour, pour lever enfin le voile en France, plus de 20 ans après la formation de l'orchestre,
sur un groupe des plus passionnants du jazz contemporain.





Performances other
Thursday, March 13, 2003 - 9PM

VELVET LOUNGE 2128 ½ S Indiana Avenue, 1 block east of Indiana, Chicago, IL  312-791-9050
Tribute to Ameen Muhammad 

 

Thursday, March 6, 2003 - 9PM
VELVET LOUNGE 2128 ½ S Indiana Avenue, 1 block east of Indiana, Chicago, IL  312-791-9050
Tribute to Ameen Muhammad
 
http://www.jazzhope.com/obit_2003_02_27_trumpet_Ameen_Muhammad.htm
http://www.jazzhope.com/review_2003_03_05.htm
http://www.jazzhope.com/review_2003_03_06.htm

 

-----------

 
2003 NEW HORIZONS ENSEMBLE

*(as of 01/09/2003-01/30/2003)

LEADER
ERNEST DAWKINS
 
SAXY etc
ERNEST DAWKINS
 (sax percussion as we have yet to experience)

BONES
Steve Berry (bone, percussion as we have yet to experience)

TRUMPS
Ameen Muhammad (trump, percussion as we have yet to experience)

GUITAR
Jeff Parker

 
RHYTHM SECTION
Darius Savage – bass
Isaiah Spencer - drums

 

Performances
Thursday, January 30, 2003 – 9:30PM

VELVET LOUNGE 2128 ½ S Indiana Avenue, 1 block east of Indiana, Chicago, IL  312-791-9050
Thursday, January 23, 2003 – 9:30PM

VELVET LOUNGE 2128 ½ S Indiana Avenue, 1 block east of Indiana, Chicago, IL  312-791-9050

Thursday, January 16, 2003 – 9:30PM

VELVET LOUNGE 2128 ½ S Indiana Avenue, 1 block east of Indiana, Chicago, IL  312-791-9050

Thursday, January 9, 2003 – 9:30PM

VELVET LOUNGE 2128 ½ S Indiana Avenue, 1 block east of Indiana, Chicago, IL  312-791-9050
Thursday, January 9, 2003 – 7:30PM

HOTHOUSE 31 E. Balbo, between State & Wabash Chicago, IL 60605

http://www.jazzhope.com/review_2003_01_09.htm

Prior collaborations

LEADER
ERNEST DAWKINS

SAXYs, etc
ERNEST DAWKINS (sax, percussion as we have yet to experience

BONES
Steve Berry (bone, percussion as we have yet to experience)

TRUMPS
Ameen Muhammad  (trump, percussion as we have yet to experience)

GUITAR
Jeff Parker

 
RHYTHM SECTION
Yosef Ben Israel – bass
Avyeeral Ra – (drums, percussion)

 

VISITING GUESTS
Maurice Brown (trumpet)
Norman Palm III (trombone)
Aaron Getsug (baritone)
Vincent Davis - drums


RECORDINGS

Ernest Dawkins
Capetown Shuffle, Live at HotHouse
Delmark DG-545 $16.99

 

 

 

 

An inspired soulfulness dominates the four extended compositions that make up Capetown Shuffle, Live At HotHouse the second Delmark release by saxophonist Ernest Dawkins’ New Horizons Ensemble. Recorded in Chicago, August of 2002, Capetown Shuffle celebrates numerous facets of the African American experience, from the gritty blues and AACM adventurousness of South Side Chicago to joyful New Orleans marches to the ancient ancestral grooves of South Africa. It was a special challenge to perform all new compositions never played before an audience, live. The awesome results show why NHE shows are unique and flow unlike those of any other band. Also available: Jo’burg Jump (Delmark 524)

Ernest Dawkins’ New Horizons Ensemble
Ernest KHABEER Dawkins, Reeds, Leader and Founder
Steve Berry, Trombone
Ameen Muhammad, Trumpet and Small Instruments
Jeff Parker, Guitar
Avreeayl Ra, Drums
Darius Savage, Bass

 

1. Toucouleur

2. Third Line And The Cape Town Shuffle

3. Dolphy And The Monk Dance

4. Jazz To Hip Hop

 

 



 


Ernest Dawkins New Horizons Ensemble
" Mother's Blue Velvet Shoes"

Ernest "Khabeer" Dawkins: Saxofone Alto, Tenor e Percurssão
Steve Berry:
Trombone
Ameen Muhammad:
Trompete e Percurssão
Jeffery Parker:
Guitarra Eléctrica
Yosef Ben Israel:
Contrabaixo
Avreeayl Ra:
Bateria


Jo'burg Jump (14 November 2000)








1. Stranger
2. Jo'burg Jump
3. Gist of It
4. Shorter Suite
5. Goldinger
6. Turtle Island Dance
7. Transcension

Jo'burg Jump is the first release on an American label of Ernest Dawkin's twenty-year old Chicago-based New Horizons Ensemble. The Ensemble is currently a three-horn pianoless quintet that plays Dawkins's compositions—mixing melodic and free playing, bop and avant-garde.  Dawkins is a member of Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). The New Horizons Ensemble has some parallels to the most well known AACM affiliated band, the Art Ensemble of Chicago (AEC). The groups have similar instrumentation—New Horizons uses a reed player (Dawkins) and two brass players (trumpeter Ameen Muhammad and trombonist Steve Berry) instead of AEC's two reeds and trumpet. The first tune, "Stranger," most reminds me of the AEC through its use of percussion and "little instruments" and the way it alternates a short melodic theme with rhythmic vamping.  A visit to South Africa also influenced the album—the title cut, "Jo'burg Jump," has a more direct sound, with some funky, R&B-ish elements. (It also has an out-sounding trumpet solo.) The tune "Turtle Island Dance" also has an African character, and uses a conch shell, whistles, birdcalls and other percussion.  Other tunes include: "The Gist of It," built on a simple motif, with a bluesy tenor sax solo from Dawkins that is somewhat reminiscent in its strength and power of fellow Chicagoan Fred Anderson; the ballad "Shorter Suite" and "Transcension" with another strong Dawkins solo.  There's a strong interplay of the musicians throughout the recording, with good playing from Ameen Muhammad on trumpet and Steve Berry on trombone, backed by the strong foundation of bassist Yosef Ben Israel and the versatile and swinging drummer Avreeayl Ra. The recording has exuberant music making, strong compositions and exciting playing. — Alan Lankin, February 2001

Release Date: 14 November 2000
Jo'burg Jump: hear sound samples
1. Stranger / 2. Jo'burg Jump / 3. The Gist Of It / 4. Shorter Suite / 5. Goldinger / 6. Turtle Island Dance / 7. Transcension

Personnel:
Ernest Khabeer Dawkins: tenor and alto sax, percussion / Ameen Muhammad: trumpet, conch shell, percussion / Steve Berry: trombone, percussion / Yosef Ben Israel: bass / Avreeyal Ra: drums, percussion / Jeff Parker: guitar on "Shorter Suite"



 



 

 

South Side Street Songs (7 November 1994)
1. Whence to Whither
2. Maghostut
3. Goldinger
4. Half-Step for Granny
5. Ashes and Dust
6. Hajj
7. Just Is Me
8. Maghostut Two

Full performer name: Ernest Dawkins New Horizons Ensemble.
Ernest Dawkins New Horizons Ensemble: Ernest Dawkins (alto saxophone); Ameen Muhammad (trumpet); Steve Berry (trombone); Jeffery Parker (guitar); Yosef Ben Israel (bass); Avreeayl Ra (drums).
Recorded in Chicago, Illinois in 1993.


 

 


 

http://www.silkheart.se/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/silk/silk.cgi?shcd141

 

 

Cat. nr: SHCD141
Artist: Ernest Dawkins New Horizons Ensemble
Title: "Chicago Now / vol. 2"

Personnel:
Ernest Dawkins  alto sax, tenor sax, flute, percussion, vocals
Steve Berry  trombone, percussion
Ameen Muhammad  trumpet, percussion, vocals
Jeffery Parker  electric guitar
Yosef Ben Israel  bass
Reggie Nicholson  drums, percussion

Track Listing:
1. Monk's Temptation (Ernest 'Khabeer' Dawkins) 10:58
2. Runnin' from the Rain (alt) (Ernest 'Khabeer' Dawkins) 9:35
3. Planet East (Ernest 'Khabeer' Dawkins) 10:38
4. Zera (alt) (Ernest 'Khabeer' Dawkins) 12:56
5. Improvisation #3 (Ernest 'Khabeer' Dawkins) 11:04
6. Looking for Ninny (Ameen Muhammad) 4:34
7. Many Favors (Ernest 'Khabeer' Dawkins) 13:04

Total time: 74:52

RealAudioListen to an excerpt from track 1 in RealAudio format:
hi-quality (requires min. 40k connection), or
lo-quality (requires min. 16k connection).

(Your web browser should automatically start playing the music, if it doesn't you probably need to download the RealPlayer. It's free.)

Liner Notes

"The music on Chicago Now! is dedicated to the 30th Anniversary of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians)." There was a sharp sense of pride in the voice of reedist-composer Ernest 'Khabeer' Dawkins. Leaders of one of the most exciting and adventurous working groups today; the New Horizons Ensemble, Dawkins has much to be proud of The accolades of media and audiences worldwide attest to its new found success.

Builders of new parameters in modern black music, the AACM'ers have placed a valued importance on capturing the social essence of history, its meaning and purpose. Hence the guiding credo of the grassroots organization: Great Black Music Ancient To The Future. This is particularly fitting when discussing artists known for framing their social/political visions through their art. Ernest Dawkins and New Horizons are no exception. They are a marvelous example of just how the music has richly absorbed the impact of history, events and the moment. These are men who could capture the passion and glory of an era - in just a fragment, in just a second of artistic virtue.

This vision of tradition runs deep within the mind, heart and soul of Dawkins. The music has baptized and cleansed him. Part of a new generation of AACM'ers; among them Kahil El'Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble and Ritual Trio; Ed Wilkerson's Eight Bold Souls; Vandy Harris' Front Burners and Mwata Bowden's Sound Spectrum, New Horizons is stepping out boldly to the forefront. Working with regularity, all these groups are a force on the Chicago scene.

Much of Dawkins' career has been told over the course of his previous Silkheart releases, South Side Street Songs (SHCD 132) and Chicago Now! Volume One (SHCD 140). However, little has been mentioned or documented about his associations with the many groups and ensembles of the mid-to-late 70s. Dawkins' development accelerated in the earthy musical unions of the AACM Big Band; Wilkerson's Shadow Vignettes Big Band; Douglas Ewart's Clarinet Choir, and invaluable study was done under the tutelage of Wes Cochran, the late reedist who was something of a sage to many a young musician. It was in Cochran's ensemble that Dawkins gained a measure of notoriety. Profitable woodshedding was also done on the smoky bandstands of south side taverns and blues clubs.

"I wanted to make special mention to those who helped me. The thank you's are never enough for the patience of people like Von Freeman and Jimmy Ellis (Workshop Big Band). This music is also dedicated to their unending spirit, their contributions toward, 'my development'."

Chicago Now! Volume Two was recorded in the same session as Volume One. Yet both stand apart as highly significant musical statements With the exception of guitarist Jeff Parker this is the, "original New Horizons." The band includes Steve Berry, Ameen Muhammad, Yosef Ben Israel and Reggie Nicholson. Past members have included Malachi Favors Maghostut and Avreeayl Amen Ra, with guest appearances by Ari Brown and Lester Bowie.

Volume Two is a slice of, "our current repertoire with a couple of old numbers added," Dawkins said. Indeed it does. From the opening "Monk's Temptation" to the closing "Many Favors", one can feel the cultural legacy of the group's predecessors, the Art Ensemble. "Many people make that comparison and we take it as the utmost compliment." And there is a wealth of African rhythm throughout the music, not to mention the living and breathing.

Mingusian textualism the band exudes. An adept composer and skilled reedman, Ernest Dawkins came up through the ranks and is finally making his mark. On tap are other projects such as his saxophone quartet, Saxophonitis, and the New Horizons Trio. Between teaching and tutoring students at the AACM's school, touring with his various bands, composing and playing, Ernest Dawkins looks forward to the wider presentation of his music. With an abundance of creative imagination, from the dramatic to the humorous, his New Horizons is a band that truly lives up to its name.

L A. Emenari III
Chicago Citizen Newspapers
Radio station WHPK-FM

CHICAGO NOW THIRTY YEARS OF GREAT BLACK MUSIC, VOL I & 2, are dedicated to the AACM'S 30th Anniversary, and the memories of Christopher Gaddy, Charles Clark, Wes Cochran, John Koger, my godfather John S. Jackson, Steve McCall, and "Light" Henry Huff. All praises to the creator for my being and inspiration. Special thanks to the A.A.C.M. for nurturing me and giving me an outlet for my musical creativity. Thanks to James Jackson who pointed me in the right direction, to Wes Cochran, who took me in when no one else had time, to Douglas Ewart, who was one of my first saxophone teachers, to Ameen Muhammad, for the thirty years of friendship. My mother, father and family for putting up with me for all those years. To my children, Marshone, Jamila, and Naomi. To Kahil El'Zabar and Ed Wilkerson, who were very instrumental in my career development, to Ivory, Pamela, Felisha, and all those I didn't have time to list. And finally thanks to all the members of the New Horizons Ensemble who were there through thick and thin. Our time is now.

Ernest "Khabeer" Dawkins


http://www.silkheart.se/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/silk/silk.cgi?shcd140

 

Cover (full size)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Artist: Ernest Dawkins New Horizons Ensemble
Title: "Chicago Now / vol. 1"

Personnel:
Ernest Dawkins  alto sax, tenor sax, flute, percussion, vocals
Steve Berry  trombone, percussion
Ameen Muhammad  trumpet, percussion, vocals
Jeffery Parker  electric guitar
Yosef Ben Israel  bass
Reggie Nicholson  drums, percussion

Track Listing:
1. Improvisation #1 (Ernest 'Khabeer' Dawkins) 6:24
2. The Time Has Come (Ernest 'Khabeer' Dawkins) 14:37
3. Improvisation #2 (My Baby Blues) (Ernest 'Khabeer' Dawkins) 3:37
4. Bould Souls (Ernest 'Khabeer' Dawkins) 7:44
5. Dream For Rahsaan (Steve Berry) 10:20
6. Zera (Ernest 'Khabeer' Dawkins) 10:53
7. Flowers for the Soul (Ernest 'Khabeer' Dawkins) 12:20
8. Runnin' From the Train (Ernest 'Khabeer' Dawkins) 6:04

Total time: 67:06

RealAudioListen to an excerpt from track 3 in RealAudio format:
hi-quality (requires min. 40k connection), or
lo-quality (requires min. 16k connection).

(Your web browser should automatically start playing the music, if it doesn't you probably need to download the RealPlayer. It's free.)

Liner Notes

Surprise. Of the three albums on which Ernest Dawkins has led his New Horizons Ensemble, this one presents the group at their most exciting, their most accessible and yes, their most surprising. In fact, "Chicago Now" may startle all but the most loyal fans of this truly contemporary sextet. With this outing, the level of their musicianship seems to have risen yet again. The musical and emotional range of their work has jumped to another level. And each of the individuals in this most tight-knit of groups shows us new details of his personal development as well.

But then, is that really such a surprise? In actuality, the continued growth of New Horizons (spelled out in detail by critic John Litweiler on the band's earlier Silkheart album, "South Side Street Songs") has distinguished this band for more than a decade now; at the same time, it has provided keen enjoyment and even edification to observers of Chicago's progressive music scene. Yet the sounds alone don't tell the entire tale. The New Horizons story remains a great source of satisfaction not only for the increasing quality of their music, but also for the way in which their development reflects Chicago Now.

"This band has been together for 16 years," Dawkins points out, adding, "Chicago is just about the only place you can keep a group together on a consistent basis. You can't do it in New York. The market is smaller in Chicago, and it can't support that many bands playing our kind of music. So here, musicians have more dedication to an individual group, guys here just believe more in the group concept.

"The people in this band kind of matured together at the same time, I mean, Yosef Ben Israel was the bassist on the first professional AACM gig I ever played. Meanwhile, being in Chicago, our comparative anonymity during those years gave us a chance to expand our repertoire." By the time their first big break came, in the form of a call to play the Moers (Germany) New Jazz Festival in 1983, New Horizons was sound, accomplished, and ready even though no one besides those in the band actually knew this. "We've just attempted to turn every negative into a positive," recalls Dawkins; "we just felt, it'll be our time soon enough."

Ever since it first appeared as the title of a book by Norman Vincent Peale, "the power of positive thinking" has emerged as something of an American cliché. But rarely has it found such a telling exemplar as in the music of the New Horizons Ensemble: music both inviting and dynamic, well-rounded and well-balanced; music that radiates a powerful and focused energy, no matter how slow the tempo or how quiet the texture.

You may not get much of a clue about all this from the album's title. "Chicago Now" merely locates the music in time and space; but between the staffs, these two words tell it all. "Chicago Now" alludes not only to this particular recording, but also to the entire progressive music scene in a city renowned for its jazz avant-garde. And in 1995, no band can capture that big picture better than New Horizons. With this album, they emerge as contemporary standard-bearers for the world-renowned AACM.

The AACM the Association for the Advancement of Creative Music has experienced something of a decline in recent years, and to say so takes nothing away from the music, the people who create it, or the 30th-anniversary celebration that occurs this year. Founded in 1965, the organization quite literally changed the world of modern music, adapting innovations of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor and Albert Ayler and developing a body of music both instantly recognizable and satisfyingly diverse. But growing pains were inevitable, and a combination of factors has taxed the efficacy of the AACM. These include the migration of such influential early members as Muhal Richard Abrams, Lester Bowie, Anthony Braxton, Joseph Jarman, and Henry Threadgill to New York; the challenges of renewing the energy and redirecting the focus of the organization; and the very success of the AACM in gaining acceptance for its music, which has all but erased one of its initial reasons for being.

Just as inevitably, however, a new wave of younger artists emerged in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s: musicians dedicated to preserving the AACM philosophy and to refreshing the wellspring of enthusiasm and commitment that has nourished the music from the start. And while no one would want to burden any single band with the responsibility of leading this wave, it remains true that no musical outfit would deserve that honor more than the New Horizons Ensemble.

From its origins in 1979 when Dawkins and his boyhood music partner Ameen Muhammad joined with bassist Ben Israel and the group's original drummer, Reggie Nicholson Dawkins knew what this group should do. "I wanted to combine the new and the old, the AACM sounds with the older concepts of traditional swing," he states simply. Hence the band's original instrumentation, which represents the four main sections of the big swing bands: trumpet, trombone, reed, and rhythm. (The decision to add another instrument didn't come until Dawkins first heard guitarist Jeff Parker a few years later. Says Dawkins: "When I heard him, I thought 'Mmmm, he's such a good player.' Then we talked, and, 'Mmmm, he's such a nice guy.' I could tell he was looking for something else to do with tunes, and I thought we could use some kind of harmony instrument. He fit in perfectly, and I didn't think anyone could do that." But part of the credit must also go to the rhythm section that Parker leaped into: bassist Ben Israel and drummer Avreeayl Ra combine to create a marvelously supple beat, whether driving the band from above or superimposing an elastic percussive cushion underneath.)

Dawkins's desire to bridge the stylistic generation gap coincided with the movement toward neo-classicism in mainstream Jazz, and more important, it represented a turning-point realization in the history of the AACM. After years of trailblazing new paths and setting new boundaries, the organization's members had come to a vital realization: they no longer had to prove either the possibility or the value of such experimentation. And that, explains Dawkins, "actually gives you MORE freedom because then you can do ALL of it, not just the one thing. If you get labeled 'avant-garde', then people know you only for that, and they can start to expect that from you only."

So New Horizons along with their contemporaries, The Ritual Trio and 8 Bold Souls have crafted individualistic repertoires that straddle that line between the new and the timeless. They challenge and provoke the expectations of both avant-gardists and traditionalists, bringing new techniques to established forms and yanking long-familiar concepts into the realm of the new. In the process, they find themselves reiterating the initial (but often forgotten) credo of the AACM "Ancient to the future" which underscores this continuum of musical expression.

Listen, for instance, to the second track on this album, which bears the Mingus-like title "The Time Has Come For All Good Men To ???" ("I guess I'm saying it's time to put up or shut up," Dawkins explains; "it's not so much a matter of things being either black or white, but actually a kind of sarcasm POINTING at situations where everything is black and white.") This elaborately constructed piece is actually a sort of suite, with the first section dovetailing two distinct melodies and connecting them with a counter-melody echo; then, after solos from Dawkins and Parker, a third melody sets up a separate framework for the brass players. This melody returns as a riff behind the trumpet and trombone solos, and the piece returns briefly to the "A" section before it ends.

Much of what I've just described reflects the compositional virtues of earlier eras. But that main theme in the first section comprises fragments of nine measures each, an unusual phrase-length that immediately throws the listener's expectations out of kilter. And the solos, starting with Dawkins' own clipped-phrase lyricism, have an often subtle but unmistakable modernism; they may reflect past models, but they could never belong to an earlier era.

On the succeeding "Improvisation #2," a not-so-slow blues drag, Dawkins pays his respects to such blues masters of Chicago jazz as Louis Armstrong, pianist Art Hodes, and even Sun Ra. ("It's not the traditional interpretation of the blues; it's rather sort of the space version.")

The remaining music includes some more obvious homage to musical heroes in the New Horizons pantheon. For instance, trombonist Steve Berry's lovely "Dream For Rahsaan" memorializes Roland Kirk, discovering an almost flute-like quality in the densely textured wind chorale that opens the piece. When Dawkins' alto saxophone blossoms up out of the theme for his solo, his choppy phrasing wrestles with the stately tempo and sets up a spectacular tension, which resolves in the long-limbed guitar lines of Parker, and in the light, dancing elegance of Berry's own solo.

Meanwhile, both "Zera" (which uses modal composition to pepper the harmony with fourths and fifths) and the recently penned "Flowers For The Soul" refer back to Ornette Coleman. On the episodic "Zera," another gently textured theme opens into an exotic section at full throttle; but it is Dawkins' own solo that strikes the Ornette allusion, with its hard sound and blurred-focus articulation. "Flowers," Dawkins says, is actually dedicated to Ornette: "I was inspired by his music, and I wanted to write something kind of delicate in the beginning, then kind of spatial but intense in the next. It reminds me of Ornette's phrasing." So will the sax solo, which again suggests the pioneering altoist's own innovations of saxophone technique not to mention the way in which all this music benefits, if only indirectly, from Ornette's trailblazing. And when Muhammad begins to reiterate the theme behind Dawson, it serves to remind us that this band exhibits the same cooperative democracy that Ornette perfected in his groups of the late 50s and early 60s.

Muhammad enters on a more typical note hot, brash, and searingly articulate when it comes time to solo on "Running From The Rain"; throughout the album, he captures the spirit of trumpeters from Armstrong up to Lester Bowie, stoking the fire whenever he gets the chance. As for the title, Dawkins likens the song to "when you're a kid and you're outside playing and you see the rain coming. Metaphorically, it's as if you're running from the pitfalls of life, the darker side of life. It's just human nature," he adds. "And sometimes, it's good to run."

I've saved "Bold Souls" and "Improvisation #1" for last, because they provide such an effective set of bookends for New Horizons' history. "Bold Souls", the oldest piece in this collection and one of the first pieces in the New Horizons book, took shape in the late 70s but has lain dormant since the 80s. Dawkins explains why: "I wrote it to be played on the soprano sax, which was new to me at the time. But the soprano got stolen, so we stopped playing it for a while. See, I don't like to cross instrumentation; if I write a song for soprano or tenor, I want it to stay there." The tune on which most of the players use the traditional practice of rifling as a structural element of their solos resembles a minor blues. But instead of resolving in the last two measures (the way an actual blues would work), each chorus resolves on the first measure of the succeeding chorus. That comes as some surprise; so does the fact that the title inspired the naming of Ed Wilkerson's well-known octet instead of vice versa. ("I wrote it for a quartet gig that featured Ed," recalls Dawkins, "and he liked the composition and the title" as Wilkerson's band, the 8 Bold Souls, will attest.)

As for "Improvisation #1," it represents one of the newest New Horizons pieces, and even one new direction for the band. "Almost nothing was prefigured for this one," says Dawkins; "I wanted to write it 'live', as we played it in the studio." Totally improvised, it coalesces out of a cloud of percussion and trombone, and as it begins to brighten and shimmy, becomes more and more rhythmic; it builds to a crescendo and ends on the high note Dawkins had set as the endpoint. "For something like this to work, you have to know who you're playing with, and the kind of thing they sparkle on."

Dawkins hopes to perform more pieces like this in the future. But wait. Isn't this exactly the kind of thing New Horizons wanted to get away from? Didn't the Art Ensemble prove the utility of this kind of music so that others wouldn't have to?

"Well, the main purpose of the band is still to combine the new and the old," says Dawkins. "But I think conceptually I'm getting ready to do some other things with the group. Now that we have established that first part, maybe it's time for US to take it in another direction." Surprise, surprise.

Neil Tesser, Playboy Magazine

New Horizons Performed at: Arts across Illinois in 2002

http://www.networkchicago.com/artsacrossillinois/centerstagecredits2002.htm

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1.  Dennis Stroughmatt and Laisser Les Bon Ton Rouler
Dennis Stroughmatt, Fiddle, Accordion and Vocals
Chris DiBiase, Bass
Jon Watson, Drums
Jim Bangasser, Lead Guitar
Jennifer Hellmuth, Triangle and Rubboard

Songs Performed
“Quand J'etais Pauvre”
Dewey Balfa
Published by Flat Town Music, BMI

“Mon Vieux Wagon”
Traditional Song
Published by Flat Town Music, BMI

2. Deeply Rooted Dance Theater
Kevin Iega Jeff, Artistic Director
Gary Abbott, Co-Artistic Director
Andrea Haynes Johnson, Training Programs Director

Dancers
Karah Abiog, Dancer
Elana D. Anderson, Dancer
Winston Brown, Dancer
Nicole Clarke, Dancer
Sarah Ford, Dancer
DeeAnna Hiett, Dancer
Keith Givens, Dancer
Carmel G. Louis, Dancer
Carolina Monnerat, Dancer
Marla Philpot, Dancer
Linda Spriggs, Dancer
Dereque Whiturs, Dancer
Marion Willis, III, Dancer

Dance Performed
An excerpt from “The Dance We Dance.”

“The Dance We Dance”
1998
Direction and Concept by Kevin Iega Jeff
Co-Direction by Gary Abbott
Text by Shonnese C.L. Coleman, Karamu Kush and Lee Aca Thompson
“The Dance We Dance”
Choreography by Gary Abbott
Costumes by Carolyn Mekha Cherry
Griot: Linda Spriggs

“Medicine Music”
Written by Bobby McFerrin
Spoken Word by Shonnese C.L. Coleman and Karamu Kush

3.  Chicago a cappella
Kathleen Dietz, Soprano
Elizabeth Grizzell, Soprano
Susan Lerner, Mezzo Soprano
Amy Pickering, Mezzo Soprano
Harold Brock, Tenor
Erik Carlson, Tenor
Matthew Greenberg, Baritone
Eric Miranda, Baritone
Jonathan Miller, Bass and Artistic Director

 

Song Performed
"Toccata and Fugue in d minor"
Written by J. S. Bach
Arranged by Howard Burke

4.  Sons of the Never Wrong
Alan Ehrich, Contrabass
Bruce Roper, Vocals and Guitar
Deborah Lader, Vocals, Guitar, Banjo and Mandolin
Sue Demel, Vocals, Guitar and Djembe

 

Songs Performed
“Witness”
Written by Bruce Roper
Published by Faintly Spoken Music, BMI

“Small Bird”
Written by Bruce Roper
Published by Faintly Spoken Music, BMI

5.  Shanta

Stories
“Friendship”
Written by Shanta Nurullah
Young Monkaye: Aaya Samadhi

 

 

6.  Chicago Klezmer Ensemble
Kurt Bjorling, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Accordion and Tsimbl
Alan Ehrich, Contrabass
Steve Gibons, Violin
Joshua Huppert, Violin
Elizabeth Johnson, Violin
Eve Monzingo, Tsimbl, Clarinet and Piano

 

Songs Performed
“ES IZ SHOYN LIKHTIK”
“Day Has Already Broken”
Medley
Traditional/Arranged by Kurt Bjorling

7. 
Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater
Dame Libby Komaiko, Artistic Director and Founder
Irma Suarez Ruiz, First Dancer
Jorge Perez, First Dancer
Alejandra Ferrer, Principal Dancer
Sara Samuels, Dancer
Jose Torres, Dancer
Edwin Suarez, Dancer
Israel Sanchez, Dancer
Aaron Corona, Dancer
Jacqueline Garcia, Dancer
Maria Vasquez, Dancer
Nestor Corona, Dancer
Roberto Manon, Dancer
Larissa May, Dancer

Las Guitarras de España
Carlo Basile, Guitarist
David Chiriboga, Guitarist
David Gonzalez, Singer
Doug Brush, Percussionist

 

Dances and Songs Performed
All Music by Las Guitarras de España

"FLAMENCO PASSION"

“Duende (Bulerias)”
Choreography by Juan Ramon, Irma Suarez Ruiz and Jorge Perez
Traditional Music

“Feria Por Sevillanas”
Traditional Choreography
Staging by Dame Libby Komaiko
Traditional Music

8.  Rocky Maffit & Chad Dunn
Rocky Maffit, Wavedrum and Ankle Bracelets
Chad Dunn, Berimbau, Caxixi and Ankle Bracelets
Neal Robinson, Synthesizer

Song Performed
“Hello Goodbye”
Written by Lennon/McCartney
1967 Sony/ATV Songs LLC, BMI

9.  Ernest Dawkins’ New Horizons Ensemble
Ernest KHABEER Dawkins, Reeds, Leader and Founder
Steve Berry, Trombone
Ameen Muhammad, Trumpet and Small Instruments
Jeff Parker, Guitar
Avreeayl Ra, Drums
Darius Savage, Bass

 

 

 

Songs Performed
"Baladesque"
Ernest Dawkins
DAWK Publishing

“Stranger”
Ernest Dawkins
Delmark Records