A Time For Healing marks the long-awaited return of one of America’s genuine jazz treasures. Kahil El’Zabar is a multi-percussionist, band-leader, vocalist, composer, conductor and educator who serves as a leading force in Chicago’s avant-garde jazz scene and has spent the last four decades performing and recording with luminaries like Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Nina Simone, and Stevie Wonder.
With A Time For Healing, El’Zabar has surrounded himself with a top-tier ensemble of young masters from his hometown – saxophonist Isaiah Collier, who’s been hailed as the new John Coltrane; Corey Wilkes, widely regarded as one of the best trumpeters in the world; and keyboard wizard Justin Dillard.
Together, the quartet constructs a deep tapestry which seamlessly explores musical movements that have flourished in Chicago over the last century – from blues and R&B to house music, spiritual jazz and back to all of its common African roots. There are many different styles and influences on display here, but it all works together perfectly and sounds natural throughout.
The album kicks off with the title track and its powerful message of healing and hope that is immediately apparent in this deeply spiritual song. It’s a particularly lovely, relaxing piece that features both kalimba and spirit bowls as lead instruments. Later highlights include the quartet’s interpretation of Coltrane’s “Resolution,” a seamless hybrid of the original and their own sound. The album ends with a gorgeous, meditative version of Gershwin’s “Summertime,” one of the most well-traveled melodies of all time that’s given new life here.
Throughout, the music is quite simply sublime – powerful yet delicate, complex yet evocative, sustaining a sound which is rhythmic and deeply soulful. As the title implies, A Time For Healing is exactly that: it’s jazz to heal and uplift the soul, a time for reflection and peace, a time to let your mind wander through the rich history of Black music in America.
Listen/buy on Bandcamp