Reviews that mention Kahil El'Zabar

October 29, 2013

Kahil El’Zabar Quartet

What It Is!
Delmark DE 5003

Although not subtitled “A Salute to John Coltrane”, What It Is easily could have been. For not only does Chicago percussionist Kahil El’Zabar’s quartet play two of the revered saxophonist’s compositions, but with the combo filled out by a keyboardist, a bassist and a tenor saxophonist the comparisons are inescapable.

Tellingly the band is described as El’Zabar’s Quartet, for while the veteran percussionist composed the five non-Trane tunes, the band lacks the individual identity that his other configurations such as the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble or Ritual Trio possess. It could be because unlike those other bands, staffed by veterans like the percussionist, this group is filled out by still-maturing players: tenor saxophonist Kevin Nabors, bassist Junius Paul and Justin Dillard on piano, Hammond B3 organ and Fender Rhodes. MORE

February 12, 2011

Lest We Forget:

Malachi Favors (1927-2004)
By Ken Waxman

Trickster to the end, when bassist Malachi Favors Maghostut died of pancreatic cancer in early 2004, his daughter revealed that he had actually born 10 years earlier than his previously accepted 1937 birth date. In a way that concluding jape was perfectly in character for the versatile bassist who from the mid-1960s until his death was a vital component of the Art Ensemble of Chicago (AEC). The quintet proved that theatricism in the form of face paint, costumes, so-called “little instruments” and stylistic turns could be the source of profound and searching modern jazz – or if you prefer Great Black Music Ancient to the Future. MORE

November 8, 2007

Kahil El’Zabar’s Infinity Orchestra

Transmigration
Delmark DE 576

Groove is the one word you associate with most of the endeavors of Kahil El’Zabar. Yet while the Chicago-based percussionist has had past experience playing R&B and African music, his rhythmic mobilization is overt, but never simplistic. That’s because as a long-time member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), he has also absorbed the concepts of such cerebral thinkers as pianist Muhal Richard Abrams. Taken in their entirety therefore, the sounds of El’Zabar’s many bands meld elements of both impulses. What results is a POMO variation that unites the sacred and the secular, a concept which has long characterized Black Vernacular Music. MORE

November 8, 2007

Ethnic Heritage Ensemble

Hot ‘N’ Heavy: Live at the Ascension Loft
Delmark DE 574

lo

Groove is the one word you associate with most of the endeavors of Kahil El’Zabar. Yet while the Chicago-based percussionist has had past experience playing R&B and African music, his rhythmic mobilization is overt, but never simplistic. That’s because as a long-time member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), he has also absorbed the concepts of such cerebral thinkers as pianist Muhal Richard Abrams. Taken in their entirety therefore, the sounds of El’Zabar’s many bands meld elements of both impulses. What results is a POMO variation that unites the sacred and the secular, a concept which has long characterized Black Vernacular Music. MORE

January 16, 2006

AHMED ABDULLAH’S EBONIC TONES

Tara’s Song
TUM CD009

KAHIL EL’ZABAR'S RITUAL TRIO/BILLY BANG
Live At The River East Art Center
Delmark DE-566

Recorded in different cities seven months apart, these CDs are connected by the presence of violinist Billy Bang and a profound respect for all variations of Black improvised music.

In addition to two originals by Brooklyn-based trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah, Tara’s Song is a compendium of hip heads from Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra and others. In many ways a showcase for the percussion implements of Chicago’s Kahil El’Zabar, Live At The River East Art Center, takes its inspiration from the drummer’s twin influences, Pan-Africanism and the city’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). MORE

June 20, 2005

COOPER-MOORE & ASSIF TSAHAR

Tells Untold
Hopscotch Records HOP30

KAHIL EL’ZABAR & DAVID MURRAY
We Is
Delmark DE-557

Reeds and miscellaneous instruments, especially percussion, figure in these improv/roots duo sessions. Multi-percussionist Kahil El’Zabar from Chicago is as expert in relating African rhythmic variations to jazz as New York multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore is in adapting temporal Black timbres to improvisations.

Complementing each man’s beat sophistication is, in El’Zabar’s case the tenor saxophone and bass clarinet of Paris resident David Murray, while Cooper-Moore’s partner is Israeli-born Assif Tsahar, whose proficiency on Murray’s chosen instruments extends to additional skills playing muzmar or Arabic oboe, acoustic guitar and thumb piano. Here El’Zabar also offers variations on the batà and thumb piano as well as the regular traps set, while on TELLS UNTOLD, Moore mixes virtuosity on ethnic instruments like the harp, shofar, deedly-bo and mouth-bow with outings on flute, synthesizer and others. MORE

October 28, 2002

TRI-FACTOR

If You Believe…
8th Harmonic Breakdown 8THHB 80004

KAHIL EL’ZABAR
Love Outside of Dreams
Delmark DG-541

Leading two regular bands obviously isn’t enough for Chicago-based multi-percussionist Kahil El’Zabar. Not only has he written poetry and film scores, taught at nearby universities and initiated arts presentations, but he’s also put together a series of ad-hoc musical groups.

Besides his regularly constituted Ethnic Heritage Ensemble (EHE) and Ritual Trio, he also organized the Bright Moments combo filled with Association for Advancement of Creative Musicians veterans and recorded exciting projects with 1960s tenor masters like Pharoah Sanders and Archie Shepp. Now these CDs showcase him in two more bands. Tri-Factor is a regularly constituted co-op trio, filled out by baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett and violinist Billy Bang. The other combo disc is more of bittersweet affair. A reunion between El’Zabar and a former duo partner, extensively recorded tenor saxophonist David Murray, it’s also the final recording session for bassist Fred Hopkins, who died at 51 of heart and liver disease a few months after the session. MORE

October 15, 2001

KAHIL EL'ZABAR/BILLY BANG

Spirits Entering
Delmark 533

Representing the New York and Chicago tradition of African American improvised music, violinist Billy Bang and multi-percussionist Kahil El'Zabar have been playing in tandem on and off for the past 25 years.

Both obviously enjoy working together because each sees himself as part of a continuing musical lineage. Alabama-born, Manhattan-raised Bang, 53, developed his lyrical, rhythmic and dramatic conception not only by internalizing the innovations of free violinists Leroy Jenkins and Ornette Coleman, but also by accepting the entire hot fiddle lineage typified by Eddie South and especially the iconoclastic joker, Stuff Smith. MORE

September 20, 2000

KAHIL EL'ZABAR

Africa N'da Blues
Delmark DE-519

Chicago percussionist Kahil El'Zabar is one younger musician who makes it a point to interact with the jazz pioneers of the 1960s and 1970s. A longtime member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, he has built the Ritual Trio around the talents of veteran AACMers Brown and Favors, who is also a member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. More to the point the percussionist has played and recorded with other sound pioneers from that time including saxophonists Fred Anderson, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, Joseph Jarman, Archie Shepp and now Pharoah Sanders.

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