Ethnic Heritage Ensemble: A Modern Exploration of the American Songbook

Washtenaw County, Michigan – January 23, 2023

The incomparable Kahil El’Zabar and his award-winning Ethnic Heritage Ensemble are returning to The Encore, this time bringing a unique Modern Exploration of the American Songbook. El’Zabar’s ensemble last appeared on The Encore’s Maas stage one year ago with Modern Jazz Meets Musical Theatre, which was met with great enthusiasm and acclaim.

Returning by popular demand, this year’s concert will feature The Chicago Tribune’s “2020 Chicagoan of the Year in Jazz”, vocalist Tammy McCann, and the incomparable Justin Dillard on keyboard. The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble itself is an assembly of world-class jazz masters that includes Detroit native Alex Harding on baritone saxophone, Chicago native Corey Wilkes on trumpet, and led by El’Zabar, a multi-instrumentalist, and percussionist who is considered by his peers to be one of the most prolific innovators of his generation. In addition to recording over sixty projects and winning numerous international awards as both a musician and composer, El’Zabar is a founding board member of NCFE (National Campaign for the Freedom of Expression). He was awarded the International Ambassador’s Award in the Arts by the Obama administration in 2012, and in 2014 was knighted by the Counsel General of France, christened as a “Chevalier Medal of Letters”. Sir 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, Lester Bowie, and many others.

Best known for producing top-level professional musical theatre productions, The Encore is also committed to bringing exciting and diverse offerings to southeast Michigan beyond just theatre. “As witnessed by their first appearance at The Encore, this is sure to be a truly unique and inspiring musical experience.” says The Encore’s Artistic Director, Dan Cooney, “An exciting fusion of Avant Garde jazz and the American Songbook, this is more than a jazz concert…it is a journey that we will collectively travel. We are thrilled to be able to bring these incredible innovators and musicians to The Encore.”

The evening is being billed as a stellar outing of internationally acclaimed artists, coming together to explore the nuances of the American Songbook through unique interpretations and spellbinding improvisations. A magical, musical journey that you’ll never forget!

A Modern Exploration of the American Songbook runs for two performances only: Feb. 3rd and 4th at 7:30 pm at The Encore Musical Theatre Company. Tickets for this event are $50 and can be purchased online at, through the box office (no fee) by calling 734-268-6200, or in-person (no fee) at The Encore Musical Theatre Company, 7714 Ann Arbor Street, Dexter, MI 48130. Box office hours are Tuesday through Friday: 10 AM to Noon, and 2 hours prior to all performances ($20 student rush tickets available at the door 1 hour before the show, subject to availability).