Ethnic Heritage Ensemble


Red • 1982

Kahil El’ Zabar has been releasing music for 43 years, but only in the last three years or so has he gained wider transatlantic recognition. Surprisingly, not with re-releases of old works, but with new music, all released on the London jazz label Spiritmuse, which has done the world a great favour and which has paid off handsomely. His consistently great solo albums, as well as his work with the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, have all carried heavy price tags Italian label Red Record has now released a reissue of an album by the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, also with a price tag more akin to a deluxe box set. Although its actually only a vinyl double LP. Hmmm. Let’s just assume that the money will somehow flow into the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and so help shape the future of the Chicago jazz scene. The music is well worth a listen and is also a good introduction to Kahil’s work. On these recordings, originally made in 1982, Kahil is already using the stylistic devices that make all his work so distinctive: the dripping percussion, the kalimba used for extended meditations, the spoken word passages, the sudden invocation of chaotic forces—often in the form of forceful drumming and a saxophone that loses its composure (Henry »Light« Huff and Eddy Wilkerson on reeds)—and the incalculable value of the album’s overall composition. The tracks ebb and flow, but above all there is an inimitable groove that runs through »Impressions« that is in no way inferior to other great Kahil works. Perhaps it really is worth every penny.