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Thursday, November 11, 2021

Kahil El'Zabar Quartet - A Time For Healing (Spiritmuse Records, 2021) ****

 By Stef Gijssels

Percussionist Kahil El'Zabar is always a pleasure to hear. Over the decades, he's carved out his own musical style that delves deep into African grooves, a bluesy undertone, a spiritual sentiment, jazzy harmonies and freedom for the soloists to expand and soar. 

His quartet further consists of Corey Wilkes on trumpet and spirit bowls, Justin Dillard on keyboards, and 
Isaiah Collier on tenor and soprano sax. All musicians also play percussion. 

The long opening track, accessible via the video link below, sets the tone of the album. The music is open, welcoming, intimate and spiritual. The theme is beautiful and infectious, the soloing deeply moving, the rhythms compelling. El'Zabar's shamanistic singing further accentuates the generous mood of the piece. One of the signature aspects of his sound is its totally unhurried pace. As a listener, you get the time to get into it, to be absorbed by the magic of El'Zabar's sonic universe. 

The second track is more uptempo, with El'Zabar reciting his own poetry, accompanied by multiple and polyrhythmic percussion. 

"Urban Shaman" is upbeat, with Dillard's keyboard capturing the rhythmic sounds of an African electric guitar. "Eddie Harris" is more funky and dedicated to the late saxophonist. "The Coming Of Spring" is jazzy and a real boppish song. "We'll Get Through This" and "Time IS" demonstrate El'Zabar's unique compositional style, including strong performances by the soloists. 

The quartet brings strong renditions of Coltrane's "Resolution", and Gerschwin's "Summertime" to end the album (a crowd pleaser, sure, but still so beautiful).

El'Zabar remains honest to his own sound, which is recognisable from afar. It's compelling and infectious in the good sense: it draws the listener in, and projects an optimistic view of the future, taking us with him out of this pandemic. He can heal our souls at any time. 

It's a double LP that will be released on November 19. Today is Kahil El'Zabars birthday. We congratulate him, and suggest that it's also a good moment to get yourself a present. 

Listen and download from Bandcamp


Anonymous said...

We will need a little more time for healing. The album has been delayed and will finally be released on February 4.

Anonymous said...

It seems to be impossible to get a vinyl record in Europe…