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World Music CD Reviews World Fusion

Kahil El’zabar

By Bruce Miller
Published March 20, 2007

Deeper Soul Remix Project
Deeper Soul

On this two-CD set, Chicago-based percussionist Kahil El’Zabar gets the Moby treatment, with various remixers—including Osunlade, Henrik Schwarz and IG Culture—going to work on one original El’Zabar song and three by his Ethnic Heritage Ensemble. Most cuts are remixed twice. The results are perfectly pleasant combinations of electronic beats and snippets of El’Zabar’s drumming and spoken word vocals. Unfortunately, the new versions aren’t equal to their source material, especially the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble tracks, which are entrancing blends of saxophone, trombone, mbira, spoken word and African percussion. These songs, which have one foot in African tradition and the other in AACM-style avant-garde jazz, derive their power from the whole package of voice, polyrhythm and counterpoint. The off-the-shelf house, techno and funk beats used by the remixers only denature them. While club kids might groove to these tunes, those looking for surprising expansions of the originals will be disappointed.