May 6, 2023
7:00pm (doors), 7:30pm (performance)

Kahil El'Zabar Quartet

Free, please RSVP below

Copresented by FourOneOne


Spiritual jazz legend Dr. Kahil El’Zabar has been at the center of Chicago’s avant-garde scene for over half a century. Since founding the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble in 1973, El’Zabar has primarily been described as a percussionist, but his multifaceted musical talents are beyond summary and also include the roles of bandleader, vocalist, composer, conductor, and educator. Some call him a shaman. The rare frontman on drums, his music has a buoyancy and a circularity that provide the structure for a meditative, trance-inducing jazz, held aloft by the rhythmic pitter-patter of an expansive range of hand percussion coupled with vocal repetition and refrain. Promoting wellness and spiritual empowerment through his hypnotic grooves, El’Zabar’s “Improvised Soul” stimulates the mind and the body at once. His music, which seeks to reconnect Black Classical Music with its African roots—by way of R&B, soul, gospel, house, and spiritual jazz—pays tribute to the ancestral giants of jazz, while energetically offering guidance to its listeners and calling out for healing in collective life. When El’Zabar joined the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians at the age of 18, and became its chairman in 1975, he already understood himself as part of a multigenerational movement of community-based, independent organizing to create a musical infrastructure for the city of Chicago. A center in himself, his gravity has pulled myriad collaborators into its expansive orbit, including heavyweights Pharoah Sanders, Nina Simone, Archie Shepp, Stevie Wonder, Edie Harris, Lester Bowie, Paul Simon, Billy Bang, and Neneh Cherry among them. His latest record with the quartet, A Time For Healing, recorded in December of 2020 in Chicago and released last February, is a musical meditation on collective loss and the reclamation of love in troubled times. For his first performance with Blank Forms, El’Zabar will be joined by longtime collaborators Corey Wilkes on trumpet, Justin Dillard on keyboard, and Alex Harding on baritone sax.

The main entrance is up five steps of stairs. Alternatively, arrangements can be made to access a side ramp after a single step. Once inside, the women's restroom is up three steps and the men's restroom is down a flight of stairs. Please be in touch with with access requests and we will do our best to accommodate.