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Album Review

The ever-evolving lineup of the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble keeps one thing consistent — producing great records. This version is one of the best, featuring Kahil El'Zabar on drums, percussion, and mbira; Joseph Bowie on trombone and percussion; Ernest "Khabeer" Dawkins on alto and tenor sax, as well as percussion; and special guest Fareed Haque on acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and percussion. The four men create a fine balance, with the percussive elements of El'Zabar and the other players providing a strongly Africanized structure upon which to hang the music, while the horns and Fareed Haque's guitar playing pull the sound back in the direction of jazz. The musicians complement each other well, with even guests like Haque pulling an equal weight. His presence brings new life to the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble sound; on songs like "Katon," his rhythmic playing infuses the band with energy. Other strong songs include a wonderful percussion and voice version of "This Little Light of Mine," which displays a metaphysical weariness, and, at the same time, crackles with liveliness. Indeed, the whole of Freedom Jazz Dance seems to act as one gentle, life-affirming force.


Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble was formed shortly after percussionist Kahil El'Zabar graduated from the school of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians in 1976. He teamed up with tenor saxophonist Edward Wilkerson, Jr., to play music that combined contemporary African-American musical styles, like jazz, with more traditional African instrumentation and rhythms. The duo would frequently grow to a trio in these first years, adding musicians like saxophonist Light Henry Huff and Kalaparusha...
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Freedom Jazz Dance, Ethnic Heritage Ensemble
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