Legendary jazz multi-instrumentalist and composer, Kahil El’Zabar has been at the forefront of the spiritual jazz, avant-garde scene since the 70s. He's performed with legends such as Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone and Pharoah Sanders.
A jazz innovator, Kahil's past and present music embraces the traditional and spiritual sounds of our African Ancestors.
Can you tell us what it was like to create and perform in the 70's?
The 1970’s were a very exciting time to create music! This period was an extension of late 60’s, where spiritual consciousness was the epicenter of creative thought and expression.
The arts were the focus for an entire generation of musicians that I was fortunate to be a part of. Whether it were jazz bands like Pharoah Sander’s groups or popular music bands like Earth Wind and Fire, all the musicians were striving for a greater sense of being through their music.
One special memory is when we had the opportunity to play and open for Alice Coltrane, Sun Ra, and Pharoah’s bands at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago in 1970. There were 4,000 plus in attendance that night, with everyone focused and committed to the Spirit.
Those days were quite special. I have tried to contain and convey that kind of energy in my work from then to now.
What impact has Jazz had on your life? Yesterday, today and tomorrow?
This music is at the core of my being, I knew at a very young that if I wanted to really play this music , I would have to completely embrace the life that comes with it and from it. I had many noble examples around to look up to and immolate.
Where do you drawn energy from?
I draw energy through the Spirit. This enables me to tap into the ancestors and listen and feel things deeply. I then try to share with others, heartfelt offerings.
How important is the message of change?
If you don’t change constantly, you’ll develop a tendency to be stagnant. I want be fresh and completely in the moment, which only happens when you let go of all the things that you think you know.
Bandcamp: Kahil El'Zabar