Ethnic Heritage Ensemble

The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble cuts a fine line between modern jazz, neo-soul and traditional African music.

For only three men, Chicago's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble brings a wealth of history, variety and versatility to the stage. Founder and percussion genius Kahil El Zabar can play just about anything with a membrane, specializing in African instruments such as shekere, kalimba and talking drums, helping keep the beat for a few people you might recognize: Dizzy Gillespie, Cannonball Adderley, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon and Nina Simone (for whom the accomplished tailor also designed clothes). Ernest Dawkins, founder of the New Horizons Ensemble, also plays drums, but is best known as a saxophonist who has worked with leading jazz and R&B artists such as Ramsey Lewis, Lester Bowie, Henry Thread­gill, Jerry Butler and the Dells. Also a composer and teacher, Dawkins splits his time between the Windy City, Paris and Durban, South Africa. Finally, trumpeter Corey Wilkes actually replaced the late Bowie in the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and has collaborated with the cream of both contemporary jazz (Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove) and neo-soul (Meshell Ndegeocello, Ledisi, Soulive). A co-production of brand-new MasterMind winners Nameless Sound, Texas rap polymath Matt Sonzala's HoustonSoReal, and Project Row Houses, this one-of-a-kind show is a perfect fit for Houston's legendary Eldorado Ballroom, so don't be surprised if some of the historic jazz/R&B venue's own heritage seeps into the evening's music as well.

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