Wednesday, February 13, 2008
You will never see a better show than the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble
I'm very excited to have the chance to see Kahil El'Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble again. It's been nearly a decade since I saw them last, but I remember it well enough to call them (two shows) the best live performances I have ever had the good fortune to witness.
UPDATE: Some of the other members of the Improvised Music Collective saw the EHE last night (02/13) at La Sala Rosa in Montreal. IMCer/fellow Now's the Time host Ron Steeds described the show:
When the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble took the stage it was apparent that it was a stripped down group this night. El’ Zabar (on assorted percussion, drum kit, kalimba and vocals)was joined by Corey Wilkes (current president of the AACM, member of Roscoe Mitchell’s Note Factory and now official trumpeter for Art Ensemble of Chicago) on trumpet & flugelhorn and percussion and Ernest Kabeer Dawkins on alto & tenor saxes and percussion. Fareed Haque was not there, nor was there a bass player. But that didn’t matter. They began the set with a killer rendition of Miles Davis’ “All Blues” that featured El’ Zabar on kalimba (thumb piano – I’ve never heard it played more creatively!), Wilkes on percussion and trumpet (both with Harmon mute and without) and Dawkins on percussion and alto sax. The solos were blistering, breathing new life into that Kind of Blue touchstone. After that tune, I leaned over to Ollie and said: “Man, the rest is gravy!”
They played original compositions for the balance of their set and then invited Kalmunity Vibe Ensemble [the opening act] up for their encore. The stage was full but, man, the spectacle was something to behold. Everyone took a solo as the piece meandered along for a good half hour. When the dust settled, we were heading to our cars with smiles on our faces and the feeling that we’d witnessed something special. Ollie commented that this was like no other show he’d seen since he started taking in jazz/improv shows.
I calculate we were all home by 3:00am. I know I’m a little tired this morning but who cares. As Aidian observed, twenty years from now we won’t remember what the day after was like but we’ll remember the concert clearly. *
This mirrors my past experience with the group's performances, and I'm hoping the same holds true tonight at the Mercury Lounge in Ottawa.
* Thanks, Ron, for permission to reprint the email