Monday, February 7, 2011

My Jazz Photos
Kahil El Zabar and My Chicago Jazz Memories

(Click Photos to see Full Size)

My wife and I lived in Chicago from Nov. 1st of 1998 - Nov. 1st of 2001, 3 years exactly. Over the turn of the century. While the weather there was definitely a bit much to bear, I'll always appreciate the musical experience I had in that city. I have lived in Houston, New York, Austin, Amsterdam, none of those cities music scenes even compare to what goes on in Chicago. Every genre is dominated by innovators.

Especially the jazz scene. The best players in the world come from, and come to, the Windy City and the output is consistently next level. So I totally jumped in and checked out everything I could while I was there.

I'd go see everybody. The first time I saw Kahil El Zabar play was at the Steppenwolf Theater in January of 1999. He and his Ritual Trio played alongside Archie Shepp and Mark Isham in one of the illest combination's I had ever seen up until that point.

Ritual Trio

Anyway I eventually got a job at the record store Dr. Wax, where they quickly recruited me to help start their website. I went over to the developers loft one night with a handful of CD's, ready to learn how to input all the information and scan the covers for the site, etc. And one of the CD's I brought over was Kahil El Zabar's Ritual Trio with Archie Shepp. My dude was like "Hey this guy lives across the hall from me," and he took me over to meet Kahil El Zabar.

David Murray, Kahil El Zabar and the late Malachi Favors (Rest In Peace)

We hit it off pretty much straight away, and Kahil fairly quickly became a mentor to me for real. He was an open door to one of the most dynamic music scenes I have ever experienced.

Most of the photos here in this post are from his loft he lived in around 2000 - 2001 above a mechanics garage just slightly northwest of downtown. Forgive me for forgetting the street name. He'd throw parties/concerts late in the night, most notably these Chicago Jazz Fest after parties. Featuring everyone. As you can see.

Kahil El Zabar and David Murray, amazing combo.

Anyway I'd help Kahil with the event promo and I'd generally help work the shows. This particular weekend was one of the greatest I could ever imagine. Kahil, Billy Bang, David Murray, Amiri Baraka, Ernest Dawkins, Joseph Bowie... It really went down.

Need to get David Murray here next.

I also got to help with the promo of "A Concert Celebrating the Life and Music of Visionary and Trumpet Virtuoso Lester Bowie." At Hyde Park Church in January of 2000. I'll never forget, it was no more than 5 degrees outside, but Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, Isotope 217, Vandermark 5, Roscoe Mitchell Quartet and James Carter & Hamiett Bluiett all came out and played in celebration of the life of one of the truest greats in jazz, who had passed just shortly before.

Kahil El Zabar conducts his Experimental Big Band

Kahil El Zabar Billy Bang

Ernest Dawkins + Fareed Haque

Billy Bang, Amiri Baraka

Anyway I pulled out these photos and started reminiscing about my days in Chicago and figured I'd share them with you. And what better time to share than tonight, just 2 nights before YOU can see Kahil El Zabar and his Ethnic Heritage Ensemble live in Austin. And then the next night in Houston.

See the flyer below and be sure to come out. Wednesday night Feb. 9 in Austin at the ND in Austin, and Thursday morning Feb. 10 at the Historic Eldorado Ballroom in Houston.

I hope to see you there.

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