Kahil El'Zabar Ethnic Heritage Ensemble

  • Main Stage
    Friday 12•July•2024

If you came to Gent Jazz last year, you may well be familiar with this name. However, this is not only down to the fact that Kahil El’Zabar and his Ethnic Heritage Ensemble are genuine legends. After all, the man was front and centre on the poster. The gritty seventy-something pioneer of 'spiritual groove’ and afrocentric jazz simply doesn't know when to stop, releasing one phenomenal album after another. In 2023, it was the critically-acclaimed 'Spirit Gatherer: a tribute to Don Cherry’ and in March this year, Kahil and his Ensemble were back with 'Open Me, A Higher Consciousness of Sound and Spirit’. The album is the sixth on London’s Spiritmuse Records and the eighteenth in the fifty years of the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble.


In the past fifty years, El'Zabar and the EHE have navigated the boundary between today and tomorrow, American jazz and West African compositions and structures, between earth and the cosmos. On 'Open Me’, he not only celebrated a half-century with his Ensemble but also the history and evolution of Afro-American music. There are beautifully unorthodox Miles Davis re-workings, there is a gospel standard that is modernised with funk-infused drums and interludes by trumpet player Corey Wilkes and saxophonist Alex Harding and then there are the essential gems from El’Zabar himself. All of this channels a connection with the 'forefathers’ but without abandoning a desire for discovery and innovation. So, now you understand why we simply had to invite Kahil El’Zabar back to join us for Gent Jazz 2024.



  • Kahil El'Zabar, percussion
  • Corey Wilkes, trumpet
  • Alex Harding, saxophone
  • Justin Dillard, keyboards