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  • EXP Series to showcase innovative UK jazz artist Shabaka Hutchings in double bill with Chicago legend Kahil El’Zabar’s Ethnic Heritage Ensemble

EXP Series to showcase innovative UK jazz artist Shabaka Hutchings in double bill with Chicago legend Kahil El’Zabar’s Ethnic Heritage Ensemble

The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia is proud to bring together two icons of jazz with Shabaka and Kahil El’Zabar’s Ethnic Heritage Ensemble on Wednesday, February 21 at 7PM for the Chan Centre EXP series. Shabaka is leading the British jazz renaissance while Kahil El’Zabar and his Ethnic Heritage Ensemble are commemorating a half-century milestone.

“This concert will offer a stunning vision of the past, present, and future of improvised music”, says Jarrett Martineau, Chan Centre Curator-in-Residence. “Kahil El’Zabar is one of the most prolific and innovative jazz musicians of his generation, and Shabaka Hutchings is at the forefront of a new vanguard in UK’s jazz explosion. They each draw on deep wellsprings of spiritual power in their music to create vibrant, exploratory currents of sound that stretch from the ancient to the future. I’m thrilled to welcome them to the Chan stage this season as part of the EXP Series.”

Shabaka Hutchings is a pioneering voice in British jazz. He is posited by The New York Times as the answer to what is keeping jazz relevant, and has been hailed as “one of the most powerful voices in British improvised music” by The Guardian. The leader of groundbreaking and boisterous bands Sons of Kemet, The Comet is Coming, and Shabaka and the Ancestors, Shabaka is embarking on a solo career, dropping his last name, his saxophone, and picking up the shakuhachi, a Japanese flute.

Afrikan Culture, Shabaka’s debut solo work, may seem like a stark contrast to his ensemble efforts. He explained in a statement that he wanted to create “a forest of sound where melodies and rhythms float in space and emerge in glimpses” by layering flutes together. But in its reflective, meditative qualities, it “thrums with a kinetic energy;” (Pitchfork) the same vigour found in all of his work. He is currently finishing production on his first full solo album, which will be released in early 2024. The new music will see Shabaka performing on the clarinet, flute, and other instruments.

The other half of the concert will be performed by revered percussionist and composer Kahil El’Zabar and his Ethnic Heritage Ensemble as part of their 50th anniversary tour. El’Zabar, who has performed with icons such as Pharaoh Sanders and Nina Simone, has been leading the Ensemble with the goal of combining African American music with its earlier roots in traditional African music. Their latest album, Spirit Gatherer: Tribute to Don Cherry, is praised as “gritty, groovecentric and exquisitely beautiful,” (All About Jazz) proving that even after over a dozen albums, the Ensemble continues to deliver their signature spiritual ecstasy.

Tickets go on sale October 18 at 12PM PST. Click here for tickets.

Tue Oct 17, 2023