THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Kahil El’Zabar’s America the Beautiful is a tour-de-force musical testament that speaks directly to the heart, mind and spirit. Kahil El’Zabar composed, arranged and conducted America the Beautiful to speak musically about the turbulent issues in America (and the world) today, as well as his hopes and love for a better tomorrow.
This incredible album features Kahil El’Zabar with an extended ensemble of woodwinds, brass, strings and an array of Afro-percussion, showcasing extraordinary players such as Corey Wilkes, Tomeka Reid, James Sanders, Josh Ramos, Miguel de la Cerna, Ernie Adams and Hamiet Bluiett (to whom this album is dedicated, as this was his last recording).
El’Zabar developed the initial inspiration for this project from his musical origins in the above mentioned documentary, and later added new works that would explore issues related to current affairs and past histories of America and the globe, regarding race, ecology, economic disparity, and his hopes, aspirations and love for a better world yet to come.
The album’s theme is a unique reworking of the anthem America the Beautiful into a multi-layered cacophony of altered harmonies and contrapuntal rhythms that speak to the bittersweet ironies of American society. Familiar classics such as Express Yourself, How Can We Mend a Broken Heart and a killer, Afrocentric version of Afro Blue have all been re-written with El’Zabar’s original arrangements and conducted by him in way that engages the listener in an audible landscape of thoughts and emotion that transverse the greater meaning of living in these times. El’Zabar’s powerful new compositions such as Freedom March, Jump and Shout (For Those Now Gone) and That We Ask Of Our Creator, further explore the adventure of melody to dissonance within the romance and passion of creative improvised music.
The album speaks to the times that we are living in today, in the wake of a worldwide pandemic, despotic leadership, mass social discontent, disproportionate poverty, Black Lives Matter and other disenfranchised peoples’ movements and the ecological and economic disparity of our planet. It is time to express ourselves with compassionate art that will hopefully propel better and clearer thoughts about where we are now and where we are going in the future. Kahil El’Zabar’s America the Beautiful is an inspirational message channelled through powerful, spiritual music, that speaks with love, urgency and hope to our current times.”