Kahil El'Zabar Kahil El'Zabar

Internationally renowned percussionist and composer Kahil El'Zabar is considered one of the most prolific jazz innovators of his generation. Indeed El'Zabar is a true “Renaissance Man,” with a musical style and content that flows from ancient Africa to the modern world. In his own words, “The spirit of one's approach comes first before the technical. All the facility in the world with nothing that comes from the heart doesn't make good music. The basis of the strength of any artistic evolution has come from ethnicity.”

Even though he is fully grounded in the history and music of his African American community, he has taken his studies deeper, ingeniously incorporating African music and instrumentation, producing a unique and wonderfully engaging sound. He credits his community with providing some direction towards African sensibility. “I grew up in a period when African Americans, as a large body, finally started addressing our roots. 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 is an accomplished musician with mastery of a variety of instruments, from the elementary - congas, bongos, African drums, shekere, gongs, and trap drums - to the esoteric - balaphon, marimba, sanza, kalimba and berimbau.

Music holds no boundaries for El'Zabar, who has not only played alongside a myriad of jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie and Cannonball Adderly, but was in the bands of Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone (who he also designed clothes for) and Paul Simon, as well as recording with rock bands like Sonia Dada and Poi Dog Pondering and heading up the jazz/house outfit, JUBA Collective.

Read more


Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles



Album Follow The Sun by Kahil El'Zabar

Follow The Sun

Delmark Records

Album What It Is! by Kahil El'Zabar

What It Is!

Delmark Records



I Am Digital Media

Album Ooh Live! by Kahil El'Zabar

Ooh Live!

Bright Moments/Katalyst


Big M: A Tribute to...

Delmark Records

It's Time

It's Time

Kahil El'Zabar
It's Time


Similar Jazz Musicians

Ari Brown Ari Brown
saxophone, tenor
Billy Bang Billy Bang
Hamiet Bluiett Hamiet Bluiett
saxophone, baritone
Motiv Motiv
John Medeski John Medeski

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.