Ethnic Heritage Ensemble | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Ethnic Heritage Ensemble



These days, it's no surprise to find unusual groupings of instruments--sometimes so odd you're hard pressed to call the resulting configuration a "band" at all. But even against this backdrop, the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble gets points for iconoclasm. Most improvising ensembles supply at least one of the following instruments to tie together the music's threads: bass, trap drums, piano, or even guitar. But the Ethnics' most frequent alignment finds them arranging saxophone and trombone in front of percussionist/leader Kahil El-Zabar's congas and earth drums--and letting it go at that. The horns are in the great hands of Joseph Bowie (the trombone-playing brother of trumpeter Lester who also fronts the neo-soul group Defunkt) and Edward Wilkerson (the hearty saxist and leader of the Eight Bold Souls), and they follow El-Zabar's trek through urban-slick landscapes to shamanistic hearths of darkness as well as light; a third of the way through an Ethnics set you no longer miss the missing instruments. How they get so much power and agility out of this stripped-down roadster of a band would seem to involve some shamanism as well. In any case, the results can be mesmerizing. (Incredibly, this concert marks their first appearance in their hometown since 1988; early arrival recommended.) Saturday, 8 PM, Hot House, 1569 N. Milwaukee; 235-2334.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →