Reed College's annual observation of Black History month is in full swing. The school is honoring the history and cultural heritage of African Americans with a series of lectures and performances, all free and open to the public.
A final major event remains on the college's Black History schedule: The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble will give a concert at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, in the Eliot Hall Chapel, 3203 S.E. Woodstock Blvd.
The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble's music fuses traditional African rhythmic and melodic sensibilities with popular African American musical expression. The ensemble's instrumentation — trap drums, African and Latin hand percussion, saxophone, trombone, digeridoo, bass clarinet and kalimba — endow their music with a textural richness and depth. Within a framework of organic, understated compositions, the ensemble imparts an ancestral wisdom and conjures an energy and spark rarely encountered in contemporary music.
Kahil El'Zabar on drums, percussionand African thumb piano; trombonist Joseph Bowie; and alto and tenor saxophonist Ernest Dawkins have been plying the jazz trade since the 1970s, always bending rules and working without the traditional harmonic rooting of a piano or rhythmic footing of a bass. This group is characterized most by its atypical instrumentation, compositional freedom and dedication to representinganAfrican American musical perspective.
Already this month, scholar and cultural critic Michael Eric Dyson and feminist writer bell hooks have addressed sold-out crowds. Dyson discussed the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the Black community in his latest book, Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and Natural, Racial and Economic Disasters. The always provocative hooks focused attention on the myriad forms of racism, from subtle to blatant, evident in the United States.
For more information, visit www.web.reed.edu.