422

Kahil El'Zabar/ Ethnic Heritage Ensemble: Mama's House Live

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
To say that Kahil El'Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble (EHE), now in its 35th year, is an institution is technically correct. The sounds created, however, are anything but conservatively labeled as establishment."

The EHE has had many combinations, including the original 1973 lineup of Edward Wilkerson and Light Henry Huff. Later versions included trombonist Joseph Bowie, percussionist "Atu" Harold Murray and, more recently, guitarist Fareed Haque, who is featured EHE's previous CD/DVD Live At Ascension Loft (Delmark, 2007).

Recorded live in 2006 at Sangha in Takoma Park, Maryland, the EHE in this trio form includes longtime partner, saxophonist Ernest Khabeer Dawkins and the group's newest member, Corey Wilkes. Wilkes, also the substitute for Lester Bowie in Art Ensemble of Chicago, is a vibrant trumpeter with energy to spare.

The stripped-down nature of this music is both its strategy and its grandeur. El'Zabar can disrobe a composition like Miles Davis' "All Blues," revealing its African roots. At the bare minimum El'Zabar, with his thumb piano and ankle wrapped in cymbals, vocalizes a living history of this music as sophisticated as Miles' Brooks Brothers suit yet as ancient as the old continent this music has sprung from.

Throughout, the groove is both captivating and spellbinding. Add to that the talented soloists Wilkes—and Dawkins. A leader of his own bands—including the New Horizons Ensemble—Dawkins exercises a dominion over his sound with the influences of Eric Dolphy and John Gilmore. As for Wilkes, his energy is self- evident, whether he is playing two trumpets at once or talking through a mute. And together the trio has the ability to amp up the energy at will.

The trio ends the disc with the sing-a-long version of "Ornette," which was first recorded on Dance With The Ancestors (Chameleon, 1993). After fifteen-plus minutes of music-making no one in the audience wants the show to end. Would it be too much to ask for 35 more years of the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble?


Track Listing: Oof; Kari; Mama

Personnel: Kahil El

Title: Mama's House Live | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Katalyst


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Rev CD/LP/Track Review Rev
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "Binary & Mysteries of the Deep" CD/LP/Track Review Binary & Mysteries of the Deep
by Troy Dostert
Published: October 20, 2016
Read "Subterranea" CD/LP/Track Review Subterranea
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 28, 2016
Read "Blue And Lonesome" CD/LP/Track Review Blue And Lonesome
by Doug Collette
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "Calvins Toboggan" CD/LP/Track Review Calvins Toboggan
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: April 27, 2017
Read "Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works" CD/LP/Track Review Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "Persuasion" CD/LP/Track Review Persuasion
by Jeff Winbush
Published: December 24, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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