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Ethnic Heritage Ensemble: Hot ’N’ Heavy: Live at the Ascension Loft

Though recorded last year on a sweltering summer day in a loft outside Chicago’s famous Loop district, Hot ‘N’ Heavy keeps its cool with performances as smart as they are passionate. Playing a traditional drum kit, kalimba and the homemade, barrel-sized “earth drum,” percussionist Kahil El-Zabar guides the Heritage Ensemble through a set of plangent melodies and swinging grooves that reflect both his decades-long association with the AACM and a fascination with musical textures and tonalities. Once a trio, now a quartet, the Ensemble-featuring Fareed Haque on guitar, Corey Wilkes (also of the Art Ensemble of Chicago) on trumpet and flugelhorn, Ernest Dawkins on saxes and El-Zabar anchoring the bassless crew-is a small group with a big, full sound.

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