Best of 2019 #25: Ethnic Heritage Ensemble – “Be Known”


The voice of Kahil El’Zabar is music from Afro-Futurism’s past.  The AACM veteran set both Ethnic Heritage Ensemble and Ritual Trio in motion nearly fifty years ago, and the intoxicating mix of spiritual jazz, classical, blues, and avant-garde were as effective at obliterating stereotypes and tropes of who should be making which kinds of music as it was at finding both simple and complex ways of expressing the blues and what it meant to live this life.  His music was an inspiration then, and continues to serve as a beacon to musicians today who carry on the Afro-futuristic tradition.  His 2019 release Be Known, with trumpeter Corey Wilkes, baritone saxophonist Alex Harding, and cellist Ian Maksin illustrates all of those qualities, and with an immediacy and a newness that puts the focus on what Ethnic Heritage Ensemble is in the here and now.  Be Known ain’t no throwback album.  This is vision forward.

Your album personnel:  Kahil El’Zabar (percussion, voice), Corey Wilkes (trumpet, percussion), Alex Harding (baritone sax), and Ian Maksin (cello).

Released on Spiritmuse Records.

Music from Chicago, IL.

Cool cover art by Nep Sidhu.

Listen | Read more | Available at:  Bandcamp – Amazon