Showbiz Nation LIVE! Interview with Creative Jazz Legend KAHIL EL’ZABAR

Dr. El’Zabar discusses his upcoming compositions for HERE HEAR CHICAGO, a new site-specific project series that incorporates art, design and performance; also showcasing works by world-renowned contemporary artist Nick Cave and international architect and MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang. Performances are Sept. 13, 16 & 17, 2007.

Kahil El’Zabar is performing at Navy Pier, Chicago’s mission-driven cultural district, as part of Here Hear Chicago, a new site-specific project series that incorporates art, design and performance; also showcasing works by world-renowned contemporary artist Nick Cave and international architect and MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang.  The two creative powerhouses are coming together for the first time to present. The epic collaboration will be featured at the Pier on September 13 and 16 as part of the free public programming for the Chicago Architecture Biennial and EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Modern & Contemporary Art.  The joint project is an extension of Navy Pier’s ongoing commitment to offer guests free, one-of-a-kind arts and cultural programming, designed to inspire, educate and connect communities across the city and globe.

Subject Series of images for Apple construction at new store on Michigan Ave. Usage of images for 5 years for PR, Web and internal.No Usage Rights Of Any Kind Granted Without Written Authorization from John R. Boehm. 1.7.2017.

As part of Navy Pier’s Here Hear series, El’Zabar and his Art Music Ensemble (AME) will produce and perform the music for Up Right and HEARD, with new original pieces composed by maestro El’Zabar and arranged by the great Robert “Baabe” Irving III. AME also features a stellar cast of internationally acclaimed master musicians, including Alex Harding; Charles Heath; Tammy McCann; artist, producer and bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma; Corey Wilkes; and cellist, Ian Maksin.

“My hope is to take the audience on a sonic journey through the mind and art of world-renowned visual artist Nick Cave and superstar architect Jeanne Gang,” said El’Zabar. “I am thrilled to be a part of this extraordinary project that integrates all of our works, with our art and creative process becoming the tools that uplift us all!”

As part of Here Hear Chicago, the locally-based duo, Cave and Gang, will present a series of live productions in which Cave’s performers will interact with and respond to a set of dynamic, custom-fabricated “Stage Buoys,” designed by Gang and her practice, Studio Gang. The program kicks off with Cave’s newest performance work, Up Right Chicagoon Wednesday, September 13 at 9 p.m. in the Aon Grand Ballroom, coinciding with the preview opening night of EXPO CHICAGO (September 13 – 17, 2017) in Festival Hall.  On Saturday, September 16, Cave will present his internationally-acclaimed HEARD Chicago at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. in Polk Bros Park, as well as a Soundsuit invasion at 2 p.m. at the Wave Wall on the South Dock. Guests are encouraged to make their way to the Lake Stage on the Polk Bros Park Performance Lawns to catch a special 5 p.m. viewing of Here Hear Chicago on Screen, a collection of short films and documentary clips highlighting Cave’s iconic works. In the event of rain or inclement weather, HEARD Chicago will move to Sunday, September 17 in the Aon Grand Ballroom.

All Here Hear Chicago events and performances are free and open to the public, with limited seating available in the Aon Grand Ballroom. Those interested in attending the Ballroom performance(s) should check the Navy Pier website for registration information.

Kahil El’zabar

Kahil El’zabar is considered by his peers to be one of the most prolific innovators of his generation.  He has recorded more than sixty well-received projects, and has won numerous international awards as a musician and composer.  El’zabar has worked with such luminaries as Dizzy Gillespie, Cannonball Adderley, Stevie Wonder, Donnie Hathaway, Pharoah Sanders, Neneh Cherry, Nina Simone, Ntozake Shange, David Murray, Nona Hendryx, and Lester Bowie, to name a few.  He has scored successful feature films like, “How You Like Me Now,” (Warner Brothers) “Mo Money,” (Columbia Pictures) and “Love Jones,” (New Line Cinema). He also scored arrangements for the theatrical version of Disney’s ”The Lion King”. He recently scored two popular documentaries in 2014, “BeKnown,” (which is on the life of El’zabar) and “America the Beautiful III,” by Darryl Roberts.


Dr. El’zabar holds a PHD in Inter-Disciplinary Arts from Lake Forest College (2006).  He has taught and held the position of Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska (Lincoln) and at the University of Illinois (Chicago).  He has also served on several prestigious panels such as the National Endowment of the Arts, the NPN (National Performance Network) and the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund.  El’zabar is a former Chairman of the internationally acclaimed AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians), and is also a founding board member of the highly influential NCFE (National Campaign for the Freedom of Expression).  As a cultural events specialist, El’zabar created and produced Underground Fest (one of the most famous Avant-garde Jazz Festivals ever).  He also created and curated “Traffic,” for Steppenwolf Theater (an inter-disciplinary arts series which also spawned the National Public Radio show also titled “Traffic”). He is currently creating and curating events as Artist in residence in Bordeaux, France for the last 11 years.

In 2006, The Chicago Tribune named Kahil El’zabar Chicagoan of the Year. In 1994 President Bill Clinton appointed Dr. El’zabar to the National Task Force on Arts in Education, and in 2012 President Barak Obama’s administration awarded him the International Ambassador’s Award in the Arts.  Kahil El’zabar is indeed a renaissance man.  He is a master musician, composer, and educator, as well as, an accomplished/exhibited visual artist and designer, along with being a published writer and poet.  In 2014, Dr. Kahil El’zabar was knighted by the Counsel General of France, and christened as a “Chevalier Medal of Letters”.  El’zabar’s belief is that art expressed first from the heart into the higher mind, inspires the journey to the soul.

Artistic Powerhouses Nick Cave and Jeanne Gang Join Forces for the First Time to Debut Special Project, Here Hear Chicago, at Navy Pier

Navy Pier, Chicago’s mission-driven cultural district, is set to showcase the works of world-renowned contemporary artist Nick Cave and international architect and MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang this September. The two creative powerhouses are coming together for the first time to present Here Hear Chicago, a new site-specific project series that incorporates art, design and performance. The epic collaboration will be featured at the Pier on September 13 and 16 as part of the free public programming for the Chicago Architecture Biennial and EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Modern & Contemporary Art. The joint project is an extension of Navy Pier’s ongoing commitment to offer guests free, oneof-a-kind arts and cultural programming, designed to inspire, educate and connect communities across the city and globe.

As part of Here Hear Chicago, the locally-based duo, Cave and Gang, will present a series of live productions in which Cave’s performers will interact with and respond to a set of dynamic, custom-fabricated “Stage Buoys,” designed by Gang and her practice, Studio Gang. The program kicks off with Cave’s newest performance work, Up Right Chicago, on Wednesday, September 13 at 9 p.m. in the Aon Grand Ballroom, coinciding with the preview opening night of EXPO CHICAGO (September 13 – 17, 2017) in Festival Hall. On Saturday, September 16, Cave will present his internationally-acclaimed HEARD Chicago at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. in Polk Bros Park, as well as a Soundsuit invasion at 2 p.m. at the Wave Wall on the South Dock. Guests are encouraged to make their way to the Lake Stage on the Polk Bros Park Performance Lawns to catch a special 5 p.m. viewing of Here Hear Chicago on Screen, a collection of short films and documentary clips highlighting Cave’s iconic works. In the event of rain or inclement weather, HEARD Chicago will move to Sunday, September 17 in the Aon Grand Ballroom.

All Here Hear Chicago events and performances are free and open to the public, with limited seating available in the Aon Grand Ballroom. Those interested in attending the Ballroom performance(s) should check the Navy Pier website for registration information.

“I so look forward to sharing Up Right and HEARD with my hometown Chicago,” said Cave. “We have been blessed to bring these community-based, collaborative works to other cities and have watched their effect ripple out in the neighborhoods for months and years after. Given this city, this particular moment and the artists coming forward to join forces, I am certain that the ideas of empowerment and collective dreaming will be absorbed and shared wide and far.”

Cave’s expressive art pairs imaginatively with Studio Gang’s innovative designs to create a playground of interaction for guests to experience and enjoy. Building upon the participatory nature of Cave’s work, Studio Gang’s “Stage Buoys” will define a flexible space for performance, responding to the spontaneous interactions of performers and the public. – MORE – Here Hear Chicago / Page 2 “Our design features mobile objects, or ‘Stage Buoys,’ that will collectively define a space for performance,” said Gang. “Reflecting the kinetic experience of Nick’s performances, the mobile objects find equilibrium amid the movement of the performers and bustle of the audience at Navy Pier.”

The “Stage Buoys” are self-balancing, upright objects with a mirrored finish that react to, and reflect the movements of the performers, and can be re-arranged for each performance. More than 200 “Stage Buoys” will demarcate the stage, defining a space that is neutral enough to host different performances but specific enough to give an identity to the broader series. The design references buoys or sea marks that float on the surface of water, communicating information through color, light, material, and shape. Like a traditional buoy, the “Stage Buoys” are designed with a very low center of mass so they will return to an upright position after interactions with the performers or being moved by other forces such as the wind, adding to the dynamism of Cave’s performances.

Studio Gang’s “Stage Buoys” will remain on display throughout the Pier once the performance series wraps, serving as temporary art installations and offering guests the unique opportunity to view and engage with the pieces up close through the course of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial. “While the ‘Stage Buoys’ are designed specifically for the Here Hear Chicago performances, our hope is that they will pique the curiosity of guests and other artists who may find new ways to play and interact with them, giving them a life beyond this event,” added Gang.

Here Hear Chicago also showcases one of the most prolific and innovative jazz musicians and composers of his generation, Kahil El’Zabar. As part of the series, El’Zabar and his Art Music Ensemble (AME) will produce and perform the music for Up Right Chicago and HEARD Chicago, with new original pieces composed by maestro El’Zabar and arranged by the great Robert “Baabe” Irving III. AME also features a stellar cast of internationally acclaimed master musicians, including, Alex Harding; Charles Heath; Ian Maksin; Tammy McCann; artist, producer and bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma; and Corey Wilkes. Each score will consist of four to five movements. HEARD Chicago will also feature the Chicago Children’s Choir as part of the score and performance. For each number, El’Zabar and company will aim to perform fresh, adventurous music that inspires their audience to feel a sense of uplifting transcendence.

“My hope is to take the audience on a sonic journey through the mind and art of world-renowned visual artist Nick Cave and superstar architect Jeanne Gang,” said El’Zabar. “I am thrilled to be a part of this extraordinary project that integrates all of our works, with our art and creative process becoming the tools that uplift us all!” The Cave-Gang collaboration is part of a series of special projects initiated by the Chicago Architecture Biennial, which provides a platform for groundbreaking architectural projects and spatial experiments that demonstrate how creativity and innovation can radically transform our lived experience.

The 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial will be open to the public and on view from September 16, 2017 through January 7, 2018. The kickoff of the 2017 Biennial will align with the sixth annual EXPO CHICAGO, which hosts leading art galleries presented alongside one of the highest quality platforms for global contemporary art and culture each September.

Here Hear Chicago is supported by a lead grant from the Chicago Free For All Fund at the Chicago Community Trust. The Chicago Free For All Fund was established for the purpose of supporting and promoting free cultural activities and events in the city of Chicago, with a primary focus on the performing arts and interactive visual arts. Additional funding for the program comes from The Joyce Foundation, which works to support artists and arts organizations in Chicago and the Great Lakes region. The project is also supported by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, which makes project based grants to individuals and organizations, and produces public programs to foster the development and exchange of diverse and challenging ideas about architecture and its role in the arts, culture and society.

Here Hear Chicago is just one of the many examples of Navy Pier’s commitment to raising its profile as a mission‐driven cultural organization, with continued focus on offering dynamic and eclectic experiences through partnerships and programs. For more information on this and other special offerings at the Pier, please visit www.navypier.com.

About EXPO CHICAGO EXPO CHICAGO/2017

The International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, is presented by Art Expositions, LLC at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall, hosting more than 135 leading International exhibitors presented alongside one of the highest quality platforms for global contemporary art and culture. Now in its sixth year as a leading international art fair, EXPO CHICAGO (September 13–17, 2017) offers diverse programming including /Dialogues, IN/SITU, IN/SITU Outside, EXPO VIDEO, the Curatorial Forum, the Art Critics Forum, Special Exhibitions, EXPO Projects and OVERRIDE | A Billboard Project. In addition, EXPO CHICAGO continues to publish THE SEEN, Chicago’s International Journal of Contemporary & Modern Art. Under the leadership of President and Director Tony Karman, EXPO CHICAGO draws upon the city’s rich history as a vibrant international cultural destination, while highlighting the region’s contemporary arts community and inspiring its collector base. In 2017, EXPO CHICAGO and the Chicago Architecture Biennial (September 16, 2017 – January 7, 2018) will align, establishing the city as a preeminent destination for global contemporary art and architecture, intersecting across a wide variety of programs including panels, international residencies, exhibitions and citywide events. In addition, EXPO CHICAGO partners with the Palais de Tokyo in Paris for its first U.S. satellite exhibition to kick off EXPO CHICAGO (September 12) at the Roundhouse at the DuSable Museum of African American History. Vernissage, the opening night preview benefiting the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, takes place Wednesday, September 13, 6–9 p.m. General Admission to the exposition is Thursday, September 14 – Sunday, September 17 (for hours please visit expochicago.com). Tickets to the exposition will go on sale in June 2017. Northern Trust is the Presenting Sponsor of EXPO CHICAGO. For more information about EXPO CHICAGO and EXPO ART WEEK (Monday, September 11 – Sunday, September 17), visit www.expochicago.com.