A.N. Pritzker School music students this month perform alongside musicians of world renown, members of the Chicago-based Ethnic Heritage Ensemble. Such collaborations are increasingly rare even in affluent suburban high schools, much less city elementary programs like Pritzker. It helps that the bandleader, jazz percussionist Kahil El'Zabar, is a Pritzker parent.
Young-lion trumpeter Corey Wilkes and saxophone patriarch Ernest Dawkins join El'Zabar in the Feb. 10 Pritzker workshop, which concludes with a 7 pm public performance in the school's newly renovated auditorium at 2009 W. Schiller Ave. They return Feb. 11 for a $100 VIP set and a 9 pm concert as the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble.
All performances benefit the school's music program. Event chair Kristene Richardson hopes to raise money for new low brass instruments, secure instrument storage and improved rehearsal space.
The three master-class instructors are headliners in their own right, active on the club and festival scene and in crossover projects covering gospel, blues, rap and rock. El'Zabar's wide-ranging credits include performing with Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon, scoring "The Lion King" for Broadway and organizing Steppenwolf Theatre Company's genre-bending Traffic series.
El'Zabar, Wilkes and Dawkins are members of the storied Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians free-jazz collective, but the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble plays in a more traditional post-bop style. The performers enhance this straight-ahead format with kalimba and other African instruments, ostinato dance grooves and El'Zabar's energetic staging.
Buy tickets here at $10 and $20 for the Friday master class and $30 to $50 for the Saturday concert. Preferred seats include a reception at Blue Line Lounge and Grill, 1548 N. Damen. The bar features drink specials all weekend for fans who mention the Pritzker jazz sets.