207

Kahil El: Love Outside of Dreams

Kurt Gottschalk By

Sign in to view read count
Kahil El: Love Outside of Dreams Despite more domestic releases in the last decade than ever before in his career, and a higher profile after playing with the likes of Hamiet Bluiett and DD Jackson, percussionist and composer Kahil El'Zabar remains one of the best kept secrets in the Midwest. There are a few possible (if superficial) reasons: the strong Africanism embraced by much of Chicago's AACM (where El'Zabar got his start) doesn't always play in New York; his simple repeated-and-inverted themes are, admittedly, an acquired taste; and, as is often bemoaned in the Windy City, you don't make it in New York by staying in Illinois. The best known names to come out of the AACM (Lester Bowie, Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, and Muhal Richard Abrams) are all Chicago ex-pats. Whatever the case, it's a shame, because El'Zabar is, quite simply, one of the best jazz drummers working today. Equally versed on trap set and large African drums (what he calls "earth drums"), he also plays a melodic thumb piano and can lay down a vocal groove that connects the dots between Billy Strayhorn and Stevie Wonder.

Strong words, no doubt, but El'Zabar is as consistently strong a player as you could ask for. His work with Art Ensemble of Chicago bassist Malachi Favors, violinist Billy Bang and his Ethnic Heritage Ensemble are all not to be missed. But his strongest musical partnership has always been with tenor titan David Murray (see especially the excellent Golden Sea on Sound Aspects). Murray knows how to winnow within and wrap his horn around El'Zabar's percussionistic heads.

On Love Outside of Dreams (and let it be said that, as with the aforementioned Mr. Wonder, El'Zabar's word choice and occasional lyrics are not for those made squeamish by positivity), Murray and El'Zabar are joined by the late great Fred Hopkins in a 1997 set. Why Delmark allowed this to languish on the shelves for five years is a mystery - it's one of El'Zabar's finest releases in recent memory. There isn't a lot of new material - El'Zabar isn't bashful about recycling themes - but the songs are simple enough to inspire new life every time they're played.

His work with Hamiet Bluiett and DD Jackson has been relatively restrained, but Chicagoans know Kahil can rock the house. Love Outside of Dreams shows the power that is only he.



This review first appeared in the November 2002 issue of All About Jazz: New York .


Track Listing: Love Outside Of Dreams; Song For A New South Africa; Song Of Myself; Nia; Meditation For The Celestial Warriors; The Ebullient Duke; Fred; One World Family.

Personnel: Kahil El

Title: Love Outside Of Dreams | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Delmark Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "One" CD/LP/Track Review One
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 31, 2017
Read "Tales From A Forbidden Land" CD/LP/Track Review Tales From A Forbidden Land
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 1, 2017
Read "Welcome to Swingsville!" CD/LP/Track Review Welcome to Swingsville!
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 26, 2017
Read "Dreaming With Eyes Wide Awake" CD/LP/Track Review Dreaming With Eyes Wide Awake
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 5, 2016
Read "New Focus On Song" CD/LP/Track Review New Focus On Song
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 23, 2016
Read "Invisible Hand" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Hand
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 12, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.