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Tag: Jim Szabo

For 49 Years, Kahil El’Zabar’s Ethnic Heritage Ensemble Has Played–And Embodied–Black History

Ethnic Heritage Ensemble
Ethnic Heritage Ensemble: Corey Wilkes, Dr. Kahil El’Zabar, Alex Harding

One of the great consolations of hanging around the music business stage door for a long time comes when people who assume that you know things ask you questions. One of my favorites is: Which band have you seen the most times? I love this question because it gives me a chance to talk about Kahil El’Zabar’s magnificent Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, which is also my favorite band.

Now, for the first time since I moved to Cleveland in 2019, I get to talk about an upcoming concert of theirs that I will attend. It’s Wednesday, Feb. 1 at Convivium 33 Gallery, presented by the Cleveland Uncommon Sound Project and needless to say, if you’re reading this, you should go, too (full disclosure: I played a small part in making this concert happen). An Ethnics concert is never less than completely enjoyable and on any given night, it can be a transformative experience.

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Blowing In From Chicago: Tim Daisy and Ken Vandermark Friday at Convivium 33

Tim Daisy Ken Vandermark
Tim Daisy, Ken Vandermark

Being a creative musician in Chicago almost demands a willingness to play anything, everywhere with everybody. Percussionist Tim Daisy and saxophonist Ken Vandermark, who will appear at Convivium 33 Friday, Jan. 13, embody that imperative as well as anyone, having collaborated with hundreds of musicians, movement and visual artists on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet despite lengthy resumes that suggest an affinity with musical speed dating, the two are just as committed to long-term relationships, especially their own.

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Exploring the Unknown: Bassist Aidan Plank Arranges the Music of Carmen Castaldi

Aidan Plank
photograph by Tanya Rosen-Jones

Tribute concerts, for better or worse, are an established marketing hook for jazz presenters and an evergreen source of inspiration for musicians. The honors tend to cluster around past masters, and the bigger the name the batter. Living musicians who can actually appreciate the tribute aren’t often feted and even less often asked to play, but a tribute concert where the honoree is a sideman? Never happens.

Yet when bassist Aidan Plank’s octet takes the Bop Stop stage Thursday to present a program of music by Carmen Castaldi, the man of the hour will be seated where he can usually be found: behind the trap set.

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Rabbit, Rabbit! Owen Broder Puts Johnny Hodges Front and Center at BLU Jazz+

Owen Broder
photo by Adrien H. Tillman

Johnny Hodges is widely acknowledged as perhaps the preeminent alto saxophone player in the decades before Charlie Parker’s emergence. Yet unlike Parker, whose influence on saxophonists is apparent 68 years after his death, Hodges’ style is almost universally celebrated in print and online yet never heard on the bandstand.

Until now. Saxophonist Owen Broder is putting Hodges where he rightfully belongs: front and center with an ambitious recording project and a new band that swoops into BLU Jazz+ on Friday.

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