Whilst the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble has over a twenty-year history, it took Chicago’s Deeper Soul Recordings remix releases to bring them to a whole new audience.
Set up in 2003 by Josh Muthart, Deeper Soul Recordings are: “The beginning of a new page in Chicago music history”. They aim to combine, “elements of jazz, soul, house, hip hop, and the ancient use of the drum”.
So, to practice what they preach, their third release was ‘Running In the Street’ by Ethnic Heritage Ensemble (EHE). It was dedicated to the memory of Malachi Favors Maghostut (1927-2004). Maghostut played in the Art Ensemble of Chicago — the highest-profile members of the Chicago collective of musicians in the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) — which has been encouraging great Black music since 1965.
EHE is led by Chicagoan and AACM member, Kahil El’Zabar. His background includes working with such greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Pharoah Sanders and Billy Bang. The Ensemble includes Trombonist Joseph Bowie (better known for Defunkt and younger brother of AEoC member Lester), Ernest “Khabeer” Dawkins on alto and tenor saxophone, Farid Haque (Guitar) and Dr. Selah Allen on percussion.
‘Running In The Streets’ features the previously unreleased original version by EHE and two remixes by Charles Webster. ‘Mix One’ is in that Theo Parrish-Henrik Schwarz ‘intelligent’ house style whilst ‘Mix Two’ is more of a percussive space age mix. Needless to say, the original version sounds like neither mix. Webster strips out Kahil’s vocals altogether and you would never have suspected the sensitive downtempo nature of the source material. The mutant mix of Donny Hathaway meets Joan Armatrading and the AEoC in one of their less confrontational moods at a drum workshop doesn’t convey the superb chill of this track.
This 12″ is the first part in a series of four remix projects of original and new material by El’Zabar. ‘Ancestral Song’ is the second in the series and was released at the end of 2004.
The original version is similar to ‘Running In The Streets’ but with more of an African feel so Osunlade and Kemit Sources were good choices on the remix. Yoruba boss Osunlade specialises in deep house with soulful percussion and his mix keeps the vocal and adds a bouncy keyboard riff whilst Paris-based Kemit Sources have produced a more ‘European’ house mix.
The next remixes promised are by West London’s broken beat specialist I.G. Culture and Djinji Brown (the D is silent), who has an impressive list of credits to his name and an avant-garde jazz saxophonist father, Marion Brown.
Most exciting, is the news of a forthcoming Deeper South Project tour of North America and the UK/Europe featuring Kahil El’Zabar, his Ethnic Heritage Ensemble and DJ Josh Deep. This tour is to coincide with a CD release so, hopefully, this music will then reach the wider audience it commands. Remember, the music of our heritage is the future.
THEBLACKLISTMAG.COM “…the idea is that the technology is accessible, the young artists are very inspired; they’re very exposed and they are looking for things that are counter to the manipulation of consumer/popular entertainment” Kahil El’ Zabar
Deeper Soul Recordings
Art Ensemble of Chicago
Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians
Lester Bowie [1941-1999]
Osunlade – Yoruba