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Out of stock

Ethnic Heritage Ensemble

Open Me, A Higher Consciousness of Sound and Spirit (2LP)

Label: Spiritmuse Records

Format: 2LP

Genre: Jazz

Out of stock

Celebrating 50 Years of The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble’s Legacy and Unwavering Contribution to Great Black Music. This is the new offering from Kahil El’Zabar and his Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, in conjunction with the legendary group’s 50th anniversary, Open Me, A Higher Consciousness of Sound and Spirit. Open Me is a joyous honoring of portent 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. 

Open Me, El’Zabar’s sixth collaboration with Spiritmuse in five years, marks another entry in a run of critically acclaimed recordings that stretch back to the first EHE recording in 1981. The storied multi-percussionist, composer, fashion designer, and former Chair of the Association of Creative Musicians (AACM) is in what might be the most productive form of his career, and now in his seventies, shows no signs of slowing down. Few creative music units can boast such longevity, and fewer still are touring as energetically and recording with the verve of the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble. 

The EHE was founded by El’Zabar in 1974 originally as a quintet, but was soon paired down to its classic form — a trio, featuring El’Zabar on multi-percussion and voice, plus two horns. It was an unusual format, even by the standards of the outward-bound musicians of the AACM: “Some people literally laughed at our unorthodox instrumentation and approach. We were considered even stranger than most AACM bands at the time. I knew in my heart though that that this band had legs, and that my concept was based on logic as it pertains to the history of Great Black Music, i.e. a strong rhythmic foundation, innovative harmonics and counterpoint, well-balanced interplay and cacophony amongst the players, strong individual soloist, highly developed and studied ensemble dynamics, an in-depth grasp of music history, originality, fearlessness, and deep spirituality.”

With El’Zabar at the helm, the band’s line-up has always been open to changes, and 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. 

For Open Me, El’Zabar has chosen to push the sound of the EHE in a new direction by adding string instruments — cello, played by Ishmael Ali, and violin/viola played by James Sanders. The addition of strings opens new textural resonances and timbral dimensions in the Ensemble’s sound, linking the work to the tradition of improvising violin and cello from Ray Nance to Billy Bang, Leroy Jenkins, and Abdul Wadud. 

Open Me contains a mixture of originals, including some El’Zabar evergreens such as “Barundi,” “Hang Tuff,” “Ornette,” and “Great Black Music” (often attributed to the Art Ensemble of Chicago but is, in fact,  an El’Zabar composition). There are also numbers drawn from the modern tradition, which El’Zabar uniquely arranges, including a contemplative interpretation of Miles Davis’ “All Blues.” As a milestone anniversary celebration and a statement of future intent, Open Me effortlessly carries El’Zabar’s healing vision of Higher Consciousness of Sound and Spirit. 

Cat. number: 8304IE
Year: 2024
Includes Prophet brochure. All titles composed by Sun Ra © Enterplanetary Koncepts Original sessions produced by Sun Ra and Bill Sebastian Session recording engineers: Kent Wagner, Jimi Randolph, and Sidney Burton Recorded at Mission Control Studios, Westford, Massachusetts, August 25, 1986 Original master tapes transferred by Joe Pires and David Minehan at Woolly Mammoth Studios, Waltham, Massachusetts, May 17, 2016 Mixed by Sean Slade and Brother Cleve at Woolly Mammoth Studios Engineer: David Minehan Mastered by: Joe Lizzi Executive Producer: Irwin Chusid Release Producer: Jay Millar Special thanks to Thomas Jenkins, Jr. In memory of Dave Smith, thank you for making this all possible. In loving tribute to our friend Brother Cleve. ℗ 2022 Modern Harmonic • Nashville • mondernharmonic.com • Manufactured under license from Sun Ra, LLC. The side lengths and insert track descriptions indicate that the track listing on the cover and labels are wrong. The track order of the record is: A1 The Prophet 16:29 A2 The Prophet At Play 6:35 B1 Infinity Excursion 2:04 B3 The Prophet Returns 12:06