Downtown After Dark starting Feb. 10

Jazz aplenty in Syracuse Sunday

"I grew up in a period when African-Americans, as a large body, finally started addressing our roots," recalls Chicago jazzman Kahil El'Zabar. "With African drums there was such an appeal in the way of playing with the hands and the sense of the entire body being involved in the playing of the instrument."

El'Zabar brings his Ethnic Heritage Ensemble to Jazz Central, downtown, on Sunday Feb. 10, following a 7:30 p.m. opening set by One Black Voice (a.k.a. Kofi Jacque Thomas).

El'Zabar has mastered a variety of instruments from the elementary -- congas, bongos, Djembe drums, shekere, gongs, and trap drums -- to the esoteric -- balaphon, marimba, sanza, kalimba and berimbau.

Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, which also features trumpeter Corey Wilkes and saxophonist Ernest Dawkins, celebrates its 35th anniversary with the Sunday performance in Syracuse.

Over the past four decades El'Zabar has added multi-textured Afro-centric rhythms to the work of many musical legends including Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon and Donny Hathaway. El'Zabar was named 2005 percussionist of the year by the Jazz Journalists' Association and in 2004 the Chicago Tribune tapped him as "Chicagoan of the Year."

Jazz Central is located at 441 E. Washington St., downtown. Admission on Sunday costs $10 at the door, and a cash bar will be available.

For information, call 263-2254, or visit livespaceentertainment.com.

One Black Voice

Syracuse's own Kofi Jacque Thomas, who bills himself as One Black Voice, will warm up Sunday for the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, at Jazz Central.

One Black Voice, which often rings out at the OnaJava Coffee & Soul Caf (c), specializes in original music inspired by African, Caribbean and R&B rhythms. He has pumped out an uplifting world vibe on his two CDs, "first words " and "A Journey through Africa."

His songs include the romantic, "Before We Say Goodnight," the African heritage-embracing story of "Kazoola's Song," "Serengeti," a celebration of African spirit embodied in Marcus Garvey and Harriet Tubman, and "Letter to My Momma,"' performed for dignitaries from Benin at the Everson Museum and at the Redhouse as part of a Hurricane Katrina fundraiser.

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