Formed 40 years ago in Chicago by percussionist Kahil El’Zabar, the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble remains a free jazz force and a guardian of ancient rhythms. The Afrocentric jazz combo dances with the ancestors alongside former Charles Mingus sideman Hamiet Bluiett, the class of the baritone sax fraternity.
“I didn’t choose the baritone, the baritone got me,” explains the 73-year-old jazz legend from his New York home. “It was love at first sight when I was about 10 years old. I feel, think, eat, and drink baritone. I love that horn. I see music through baritone eyes. The melody is right there. The real melody, not those frivolous hummingbird melodies, but Earth melodies.”
Bluiett broke the mold in 1977 founding the World Saxophone Quartet, an all-sax group with a bold philosophy.
“To hell with the rhythm section and all. We changed the way music was played. We didn’t have a drummer playing metronome. The horns were in tune, not with a piano, but with each other. We broke through all of that with no microphones, no nothing – acoustic. The sound carries forever because it’s supposed to be that way.”
Bluiett looks forward to playing untamed with his longtime friend.
“I’ve known Kahil a long time. He’s really smart, brilliant. He’s a drummer and drummers think different. I like playing with the group because it has the African diaspora all up in it.”– Thomas Fawcett
Miho Hatori and Yuka Honda timed the birth of Cibo Matto between Nevermind and the ossification of alt-rock. How else to explain their mix of Japanese pop, hip-hop, and techno skirting the mainstream’s outer limits via repeated MTV airings of “Know Your Chicken”? Hotel Valentine, Cibo’s first album in nearly 15 years, bolsters its haunted hotel narrative with guest shots from Reggie Watts and Wilco guitarist Nels Cline. Groovy strangeness abounds on sideways disco jams like “10th Floor Ghost Girl.”– Greg Beets