Douglas Ewart & Inventions | Jazz | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Fri., Dec. 26, 9:30 p.m. 2008
Price: $15
Who better to celebrate the first day of Kwanzaa than DOUGLAS EWART? The multi-instrumentalist lives its principles year-round: he makes his own stage clothing, wooden flutes, and didgeridoos and has released most of his albums on his own Arawak label, demonstrating both kujichagulia (self-­determination) and kuumba (creativity), and every year he organizes an art-and-music event called Crepuscule in Washington Park that aims to bind together a community across generations, bespeaking umoja (unity). Though Ewart could’ve used the piquant voice he coaxes from various clarinets and saxophones (which has also graced several Roscoe Mitchell recordings) and his considerable skills as a composer (the AACM Large Ensemble has made an anthem of his jaunty “Red Hills”) to build a big discography and maintain a heavy touring schedule, instead he and his band Inventions have mostly worked locally, bringing musicians and spoken-word artists together to celebrate African roots and spirituality. But you don’t have to care about any of that to dig this group when they’re in the zone—last month at their Umbrella Fest gig, they moved with irresistible momentum and immaculate precision from thrilling free-jazz horn solos to hypnotic trance-rhythm workouts to eerie vocal excursions by Dee Alexander, who can outdo any old synthesizer for sheer sonic strangeness. Mankwe Ndosi is the lead vocalist in tonight’s lineup, which also includes reedist Mwata Bowden and drummer Dushun Mosley. Ewart will be back at the Velvet on Tuesday with his Nyahbingi Drum Choir. —Bill Meyer

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