Ethnic Heritage Ensemble’s 25th Anniversary Tour: Kahil El'Zabar --- Ernest "Khabeer" Dawkins --- Joseph Bowie


Sign in to view read count
"Tradition Meets Contemporary Innovation"

The EHE has been about two horns and a drum for 25 years. Kahil has been active in usurping the artificially ingrained construct which dictates that the tuba or bass represent the basic harmonic structure, the horn, piano or guitar represent melody with harmony and the drummer remains the timekeeper. This has been an AACM mandate ever since the organization's inception: getting all participants to develop their own conceptual approach to music.

“Serenely centered one moment, passionately confrontational the next, this iconoclastic guerrilla band has replaced a member and added another, thus charted its course into the next century." -- Neil Tesser


Feb. 7 Northern Illinois University - Dekalb, IL
Feb. 8 Hot House - Chicago, IL
Feb. 17 Erie Art Museum - Erie, PA
Feb. 18 Hallwalls - Buffalo, NY
Feb. 20 Ottowa, Canada
Feb. 21 Artword Theater - Toronto, Canada
Feb. 23-24 Montreal, Canada
Feb. 25 Flynn Theater - Burlington, VT
Feb. 26 Knitting Factory - NYC
Feb. 28 (Sangha Cafe)Transparent - Washington, DC

Kahil El'Zabar (percussion) - Internationally renowned percussionist, composer, bandleader, author, teacher, and movie star, Kahil is considered one of the most prolific jazz innovators of his generation. Growing up on Chicago's south side, Kahil heard music in the streets everyday, instilling in him a deep passion for music and its connection to the African-American community. His love for other art forms and philosophy motivated him to pursue a thorough and diverse education. His formal training is highlighted with studies in Ghana, West Africa, the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians), and the Sun Drummer Institute. Kahil is an accomplished musician with mastery of a variety of instruments including congas, bongos, African drums, shekere, gongs, trap drums, balaphon, marimba, sanza, kalimba, and berimbau. He has had the opportunity to play and record with some of the world's most respected musicians including Dizzy Gillespie, Donny Hathaway, David Murray, Stevie Wonder, Henry Threadgill, and Paul Simon to name a few. In addition to leading the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble he also leads the Ritual Trio featuring bassist Malachi Favors and saxophonist Ari Brown. Kahil released a book of prose and poetry in 1993 called “Mis'Taken Brilliance," and scored two feature films, “Mo' Money"(Columbia Pictures) and “How U Like Me Now"(Universal Pictures). Confirming his title as a true “Renaissance Man," he is also credited with acting roles in “Savannah", “So Low But Not Alone," and “The Last Set."

Ernest “Kahbeer" Dawkins (saxophone) - Ernest Dawkins is a musician, composer, arranger, and educator who has helped advance the identification and appreciation of the rich African-American musical experience into a realm of high recognition. He grew up on Chicago's south side often listening to Sonny Sills and Anthony Braxton play from his bedroom window. At the age of twelve years, Ernest learned how to play the bass and conga drums and when he was nineteen he became mesmerized by the sound of the saxophone while listening to his father's jazz recording of Guido Sinclair. Within one week he purchased a saxophone, clarinet, and flute and taught himself the scales and two weeks later members of the AACM gave Ernest his first lesson. He studied at Vanderbilt College as well as the AACM and he earned his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in music education from Governor State University. Since that time, Ernest has shown his commitment “to represent the cultural experience, especially the African-American cultural experience in Chicago," by teaching in a variety of schools and colleges across Chicago including the Chicago Vocational High School, Robeson High School, Urban Gateways School, AACM, Columbia College, and Chicago Public Schools. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Ernest has lead the New Horizons Ensemble since 1978 and has worked with a myriad of music greats including: Ramsey Lewis, Muhal Richard Abrams, Lester Bowie, Edward Wilkerson Jr., Henry Threadgill, Amina Claudine Myers, Anthony Braxton, Jack Mc Duff, Famadou Don Moye, Jerry Butler, and the Dells. He has also received several awards including: Illinois Arts Council Fellowship(1999); Jazz Institute Commission “Beltway to Bronzeville,"(1999); Arts Midwest Grant from Meet the Composer(1992); Apprenticeship Study Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts(1985-1986); Music and Performance Grant from the Chicago Office of Fine Arts(1984-1985); and Talent Scholarship from Governor State University(1980-1981). Ernest is currently working on a special initiative that would take his music from Chicago to South Africa.

Joseph Bowie (trombone) - Joseph Bowie's life has been dominated by music since childhood. Son of a retired St. Louis music teacher and younger brother of Broadway arranger Byron K. Bowie and legendary trumpeter Lester Bowie, Joseph began trombone lessons at age 11. By the time he was 15, Joseph joined St. Louis' Black Artist Group and advanced to studying with saxophonists Julius Hemphill, Hamiett Bluiett and Oliver Lake, all artists of enormous influence and reputation. At age 19, Bowie, with other members of the Black Artist Group, left St. Louis for Paris. In 1973, Bowie returned to the States via New York where, with Bobo Shaw, he organized the Human Arts Ensemble and began constantly seeking to redefine the boundaries of jazz. This concept eventually led him to the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, which along with the highly successful funk/jazz band Defunkt, have become Joseph's trademark groups. In addition he keeps himself busy touring with Charlie Haden's Liberation Orchestra, performing with the David Murray Big Band, guest lecturing for the Smithsonian Institution's Campus on the Mall Program, and performing and recording with the late pianist Don Pullen's group, the African Brazilian Connection and the Chief Cliff Singers, a Native America drumming ensemble. Joseph also tours and records with a number of European artists including the Vienna Arts Orchestra, Count Basie and the Sebastian Peikarek Quartet.


“The Continuum" (Delmark 496) ft. “Atu" Harold Murray
“Freedom Jazz Dance" (Delmark 517) ft. Fareed Haque

For more information contact .


Jazz News


Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.