Millennium Park Summer Music Series - Lean On Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers | Kahil El'Zabar Ethnic Heritage Ensemble with Special Guest David Murray

Monday, June 18, 2018 • FREE Admission • 6:30pm

Millennium Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion

Millennium Park  >  Millennium Park Summer Music Series  >  Lean On Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers | Kahil El'Zabar Ethnic Heritage Ensemble

 José James(click on image to enlarge)


(schedule of performers is subject to change)


Lean On Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers

'Love in a Time of Madness' is José James' forthcoming album and 4th for the world-famous Blue Note label. "I wanted to share the music with my fans first, before it became an album. I think it's an amazing way to connect with people. See what moves an audience. That way, I'm only including songs on the record that are proven to inspire people. It's tremendously rewarding to share my music like this, and this way my fans help me to create the album."

Working with an international group of writers and producers James is crafting a new sound and style inspired by influences such as Frank Ocean, Usher, Miguel and John Legend, and extending the R&B and Hip Hop thread that has run throughout much of his work. "This album is everything I love about music. The songs are so dope! For me its all coming full circle. I discovered jazz through hip-hop and rap tracks produced by Qtip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Prince Paul, RZA, Rick Rubin and Madlib, people like that. So sampling Donald Byrd and Ronnie Laws and working with beat makers is so rewarding. I've always had R&B in my work going all the way to my first albums. Tracks like Blackeyedsusan on "The Dreamer" and Made For Love and Blackmagic with Flying Lotus. Working with Robert Glasper, Chris Dave and Pino Palladino on "No Beginning No End" was amazing too. This album takes it to the next level.

Featuring a live band, José James presents a stripped down, intimate view of the album. With Takeshi Ohbayashi on keys, Solomon Dorsey on bass and vocals, and Nate Smith on drums, James combines the fluidity of jazz with sensual R&B songwriting, stretching over hip hop beats.


Kahil El'Zabar Ethnic Heritage Ensemble
with Special Guest David MurrayKahil El’Zabar

Kahil El’Zabar has been one of the deepest and most forward-thinking artists from Chicago’s renowned improvised music scene for many years. Working in many creative contexts as a member of the boundlessly innovative AACM, El’Zabar founded the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble in 1973, later joined by tenor saxophonist Edward Wilkerson, Jr., as a way to further explore the connections between African-American music, like jazz, with more traditional African instrumentation and rhythms. In the first years, the duo would frequently grow to a trio, adding musicians like saxophonist Light Henry Huff and Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre. Touring frequently in Europe and the United States, they established a global reputation. In 1997 Ernest “Khabeer” Dawkins replaced Wilkerson and was first featured on a recording made by the Ensemble in 1999, Freedom Jazz Dance. That album included Chicago jazz legend Fareed Haque and continued the Ensemble’s tradition of music with a modern sensibility and an ancestral spirit. By 2006 Bowie’s spot was filled by young trumpeter Corey Wilkes, a highly regarded improviser with a soulful sound and unique sensibilities, informed by his emersion in music from jazz to hip-hop.

This Ethnic Heritage Ensemble includes trumpeter, Corey Wilkes, baritone saxophonist Alex Harding, special guest cellist Ian Maksin, and the compelling presence of Kahil El’Zabar on drum set, hand percussion, and soulful vocalizations.


Guest Host: avery r. young

avery r. young

Interdisciplinary artist avery r. young is a 3Arts Award winning teaching-artist, composer and producer with work that spans the genres of music, performance, visual arts and literature. Examining and celebrating Black American history and culture, his work also focuses in the areas of social justice, equity, queer identity, misogyny and body consciousness. As a writer, this Cave Canem alum has work featured The Breakbeat Poets, Coon Bidness, to be left with the body and Make Magazine. He has also written curriculum and essay on arts education which appear in Teaching Artist Journal and A.I.M. Print. Dubbed “sunday mornin jook joint,” his performance and work in sound design merges spiritual and secular aesthetics with dramatic and comedic sensibilities. He has performed in the Hip Hop Theater Festival, Wordstock and Lollapalooza. Has recorded with house producers Anthony Nicholson, Charlie Dark and is featured on recordings such as, New World Reveal-A-Solution, Audio Truism, Catfish Haven’s Devastator and New Skool Poetiks. His new full-length release, booker t. soltreyne: a race rekkid, features songs and other sound designed created during his artist residency with the University of Chicago's Arts and Public Life initiative. It was during this residency that he worked worked on sound design and concrete poems called "cullud sign(s)." Through voice, sound, visual art and performance, young is constantly exploring the forms and spaces in which poetry can exist. Most recently, he is the vocalist on flutist Nicole Mitchell’s Mandorla Awakening (FPE Records) and his poetry is featured in photographer Cecil McDonald Jr.’s debut book, In the Company of Black (Candor Arts) and his first book neckbone (Northwestern University Press) will be available Spring 2019. He is currently one of four directors for the Floating Museum and touring with his band avery r. young & de deacon board.

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Plan Your Visit

Millennium Park

Admission is FREE

Millennium Park
201 E. Randolph St.
Michigan Ave. & Columbus Ave.
Chicago, IL 60601

Millennium Park Visitor Information


Millennium Garages

Parking Details: Park right below the music! Garage locations are Millennium Park Garage and Millennium Lakeside Garage at 5 S. Columbus Drive, Grant Park North Garage at 25 N. Michigan Ave. and Grant Park South Garage at 325 S. Michigan Ave.

Packages: $35 parking/Millennium Park Garage and Millennium Lakeside Garage (regular rates apply at Grant Park North & Grant Park South Garages)

Purchase Options: Pay at parking location; call 312.616.0600


CTA Transportation

Take CTA to the Millennium Park Summer Music Series, for travel information, visit

  • From the elevated lines: exit at Washington/Wabash and walk east.
  • From the subway: exit at Lake (Red Line) or Washington (Blue Line) and walk east.
  • Served by buses 3,4,6,J14,20,56,60,124,146,147,151, and 157.


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