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Kahil El'Zabar


Internationally renowned percussionist and composer Kahil El'Zabar is considered one of the most prolific jazz innovators of his generation. Indeed El'Zabar is a true "Renaissance Man," with a musical style and content that flows from ancient Africa to the modern world. In his own words, "The spirit of one's approach comes first before the technical. All the facility in the world with nothing that comes from the heart doesn't make good music. The basis of the strength of any artistic evolution has come from ethnicity."

Even though he is fully grounded in the history and music of his African American community, he has taken his studies deeper, ingeniously incorporating African music and instrumentation, producing a unique and wonderfully engaging sound. He credits his community with providing some direction towards African sensibility. "I grew up in a period when African Americans, as a large body, finally started addressing our roots. With African drums there was such an appeal in the way of playing with the hands and the sense of the entire body being involved in the playing of the instrument." El'Zabar is an accomplished musician with mastery of a variety of instruments, from the elementary - congas, bongos, African drums, shekere, gongs, and trap drums - to the esoteric - balaphon, marimba, sanza, kalimba and berimbau.


Open Me: A Higher Consciousness of Sound and Spirit

Label: Spiritmuse
Released: 2024
Track listing: All Blues; Barundi; The Whole World; Return Of The Lost Tribe; Hang Tuff; Can You Find A Place; Great Black music; Passion Dance; Ornette; Compared To What; Kari; Open Me.


Article: Radio & Podcasts

James Brandon Lewis, Kenny Drew, Satoko Fujii, Julian Lage

Read "James Brandon Lewis, Kenny Drew, Satoko Fujii, Julian Lage" reviewed by David Brown

We kick off the show with some works that blur the lines of genre from James Brandon Lewis, Mary Halvorson and the Chicago Underground Duo; move into a set of late '50s recordings by pianist Kenny Drew, and then take off in all directions from there: piano trios from Satoko Fujii, Marc Copland and Matthew Shipp; ...


Article: Album Review

Kahil El'Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble: Open Me: A Higher Consciousness of Sound and Spirit

Read "Open Me: A Higher Consciousness of Sound and Spirit" reviewed by Chris May

The first few bars of Open Me: A Higher Consciousness Of Sound And Spirit promise the listener is in for a treat. Corey Wilkes' muted trumpet plays Miles Davis' “All Blues" counterpointed by Alex Harding's rugged baritone saxophone and Kahil El'Zabar's ankle bells and kalimba. Here is Ethnic Heritage Ensemble in all its enchanting bare-bones singularity, ...


Spirit Gatherer: Tribute to Don Cherry

Label: Self Produced
Released: 2023
Track listing: Don Cherry; Lonely Woman; Evocation; Degi-Degi; Sketches of A Love Supreme; Bop On; Holy Man; Well You Needn't; The Opening; Harvest Time; Spirit Gatherer.


Article: Year in Review

Chris May's Best Albums Of 2023

Read "Chris May's Best Albums Of 2023" reviewed by Chris May

Another great year for recorded jazz. Fourteen of 2023's most special albums are presented here. Eight are new recordings and six are reissues or previously unreleased archive items. Joint Number One Best New Albums Of 2023 Irreversible Entanglements Protect Your Light Impulse! There are two contendors for the slam-dunk ...


Article: Album Review

Vilhelm Bromander: In This Forever Unfolding Moment

Read "In This Forever Unfolding Moment" reviewed by Chris May

Ornette Coleman's haunting “Lonely Woman" is becoming something of a 2023 soundtrack. At the time of writing, we have had memorable versions from Kahil El'Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble on Spirit Gatherer (Spirit Muse), and Kurt Elling and Charlie Hunter on The Iridescent Spree (Edition), plus another couple of efforts about which the less said the better. ...


Article: Radio & Podcasts

Gard Nilssen, Damon Locks, Alberto Dipace & HIIT

Read "Gard Nilssen, Damon Locks, Alberto Dipace & HIIT" reviewed by Maurice Hogue

Norwegian drummer Gard Nilssen has packed his Supersonic Orchestra with 17 of the top players from Scandinavia and Northern Europe and the result has been acclaimed. If you missed the band's debut “If You Listen Carefully The Music Is Yours," you can hear a track from Nilssen and the ensemble's latest Family. After sitting on a ...


Article: Live Review

Gent Jazz 2023

Read "Gent Jazz 2023" reviewed by Martin Longley

Gent Jazz Festival Gent, Belgium July 9-15, 2023 It looked dire in 2022. The Gent Jazz festival, a two-decade integral element in the cultural life of this wondrous Belgian city, was declared bankrupt, along with Jazz Middelheim in Antwerp, which had an even more august history. Amazingly, it's still here ...


Article: In Pictures

Vision Festival 2023

Read "Vision Festival 2023" reviewed by Luciano Rossetti


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