The deep, soulful style of free jazz group Ethnic Heritage Ensemble is music for mind, body and spirit. Led by legendary Chicago drummer and percussionist Sir Kahil El’Zabar, this is a must-see sonic exploration of a fundamental jazz tradition.
Following on from the success of the 2014 album Black is Back: 40th Anniversary Project, their 2019 album Be Known: Ancient/Future/Music on Spritmuse Records is an electrifying mix of spiritual jazz and African rhythms. Compositions such as the thrilling ‘Blew It’ are built around fundamental brass improvisations with a swing-induced groove, while El’Zabar’s vocal chants on ‘Pharoah’ whip up a trance-like fervour, as we are taken on a sacred journey of enlightenment and deep listening.
El’Zabar’s driving compositions and afro-futuristic spiritual grooves put him in a league of his own. Having graduated from the school of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) he wished to combine African American and traditional African sounds and provide an alternative pathway in jazz.
Together with the Art Ensemble of Chicago they’re one of the two remaining original groups in the world today that were nurtured in the AACM, an organisation with a pivotal and ongoing influence on the shape and direction of jazz.
Similar to Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane and other experimentalists El’Zabar and his Ensemble, alongside high number of AACM founders and early members, have become major figures in the jazz world and were pivotal in bringing a new vision to a genre facing an existential crisis. We’ll use this special performance to also celebrate the AACM, who’ve led the way towards a progressive new sonic movement for the last 65 years.
The Ensemble’s current line-up includes Corey Wilkes on trumpet and multi-instrumentalist Alex Harding on baritone sax. Paul Bradshaw of Straight No Chaser and SpiritMuse Records soundtrack the evening.