653 Chenery Street
in San Francisco's Glen Park neighborhood

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Wednesday, February 28th – 7:30-9:30pm
50th Anniversary Tour!
Kahil El’Zabar’s Ethnic Heritage Ensemble
New album releases March 8:
“Open Me: A Higher Consciousness
of Sound & Spirit”

Kahil El’Zabar
percussion, kalimba, voice

Corey Wilkes

Alex Harding
baritone saxophone


$30 cover at the door (cash or venmo)
reservations, call 415-586-3733

As the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble wraps up its annual Black History Month tour, the Ensemble is sporting a new release, out March 8 from Spiritmuse Records, entitled “Open Me: A Higher Consciousness of Sound and Spirit.” Open Me is a joyous honoring of potent new directions of the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble; it’s a visionary journey into deep roots and future routes, channeling traditions old and new. It mixes El’Zabar’s original compositions with timeless classics by Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, and Eugene McDaniels. Thus, the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble continues affirming their indelible, half-century presence within the continuum of Great Black Music.

February 28th marks the EHE’s sixth date at Bird & Beckett, starting with the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble’s 44th Anniversary tour in February 2017 — when we noted that,

Internationally renowned percussionist and composer Kahil El’Zabar is considered one of the most prolific jazz innovators of his generation. Indeed El’Zabar is a true “Renaissance Man,” with a musical style and content that flows from ancient Africa to the modern world. In his own words, ‘The spirit of one’s approach comes first before the technical. All the facility in the world with nothing that comes from the heart doesn’t make good music. The basis of the strength of any artistic evolution has come from ethnicity.”


Here are a couple of photos from the EHE’s 2017 Bird & Beckett debut:

And here’s a link to an article about the EHE’s 2020 Black History Month Tour, which kicked off on January 21, 2020, right on the eve of the Great Pandemic — which led to a two year hitch in the giddyup until their return last year in February 2023!

We are excited and honored
to welcome the trio back!
February 28, 2024!

Join us to celebrate 50 years of the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble!

Sir Kahil El’Zabar was born in 1953 in Chicago, attended Kennedy-King and Malcolm X City Colleges of Chicago before enrolling at Lake Forest College, in Lake Forest, Illinois, and also studied at the University of Ghana.

In 1969, El’Zabar performed with Eugene Ammons in St. Louis and Cincinnati. In 1973, he founded the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble. El’Zabar also founded Ritual Trio and the Kahil El’Zabar Quartet.

His fifty-plus album discography includes We Is — Live At The Bop Shop, Live at the River East Art Center, Big M: A Tribute to Malachi Favors, and Ooh Live among others. El’Zabar is the founder of Ooh Now, a cultural e-commerce network established in 2008. He also has served as the artistic director of the Chicago Academy of Music. El’Zabar was the subject of the documentary film Be Known: The Mystery of Kahil El’Zabar, by filmmaker Dwayne Johnson-Cochran. El’Zabar has performed with musicians including Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, and Nina Simone.

Kahil El’Zabar joined the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians in 1970, becoming chair in 1975. In 2002, he was named percussionist of the year by the Jazz Journalists Association. El’Zabar was named the 2006 Chicagoan of the Year by the Chicago Tribune. In 2008, he became the artist-in-residence of the City of Bordeaux, France, and, in 2014, was knighted by the French government, receiving the Chevalier Medal of Letters.

These are no small accomplishments.

With El’Zabar at the center, the line-up of the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble has always, since its founding in 1973, been open to changes, with the current line-up coalescing in 2017. Over the years, the EHE has welcomed dozens of revered musicians including Light Henry Huff, Kalaparusha Maurice Macintyre, Joseph Bowie, Hamiett Bluiett, and Craig Harris. The current line-up has been consolidated over two decades — trumpeter Corey Wilkes entered the circle twenty years ago, while baritone sax player Alex Harding joined seven years ago, after having played with El’Zabar since the early 2000s in groups such as Joseph Bowie’s Defunkt. Learn about their releases on Spiritmuse at this link.

Their most recent album prior to this one, “America the Beautiful”, was released in 2021. Click here to listen to an interview with Kahil on the release of America the Beautiful.

Check out the EHE’s February 23, 2023 performance at Bird & Beckett:

Celebrate with us this February 28th!

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The Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project

Our events are put on under the umbrella of the nonprofit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project (the "BBCLP"). That's how we fund our ambitious schedule of 300 or so concerts and literary events every year.

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The Independent Musicians Alliance

Gigging musicians! You have nothing to lose but your lack of a collective voice to achieve fair wages for your work!
The IMA can be a conduit for you, if you join in to make it work.


Read more here - Andy Gilbert's Feb 25 article about the IMA from KQED's site

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