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Unbiased dedication to music, free of genre limitations, that’s Ebo Shakoor´s lifetime passion. His flute playing is very smooth, diverse and full of fascinating improvisation. Ebo´s percussion style varies from Latin, Funk to Jazz rhythms and his remarkable deep, warm and mellow voice fits every style of “Black Music”.
Born in the 50s in Washington D.C., he studied music with Billy Byers at the University of Nevada in the seventies, joined the Free-Jazz scene in his hometown and moved to Germany in 1981.
Since the start of his musical career he has been involved in a large number of different projects and bands and he has been working with artist like Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Gil-Scott Heron and Don Cherry, just to name a few.
His musical influence ranges from Jazz, Flamenco and Gospel to Drum ´n Bass and House. Ebo strongly believes that positive music and art can influence the masses to act positively to stop the cruel acts upon humanity.
On his latest album “Modern Day Slavery” he processes his dismay about the fact that many of his people in Africa are still slaves to their own after 400 years. Mixing Jazz, R&B and World Beat elements he emphasises the status quo of modern day slavery for 2011 to spread awareness among people.
Ebo Shakoor Biography
The American multi-instrumentalist (flute and percussion) and vocalist Ebo Shakoor has always worked on several projects at the same time. These include his own bands as well as concerts, tours and studio recordings with fellow musicians by the names of Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Don Cherry and Gil Scott-Heron. With his latest group “Jazzicals”, he interprets Jazz classics by converting them into wonderful soul ballads. The fact that he is being compared to the legendary flutist Eric Dolphy quite often is not a coincidence. Ebo’ s flute play is amazingly smooth, yet diverse and his improvisations are fascinating.
Also as a percussionist, he stands out with all the experience he collected in the U.S., Jamaica and Europe, playing many different styles of music from Jazz to Latin and Funk.
As if all this wasn’t enough, Ebo Shakoor is also an extraordinary vocalist. His deep, full and warm voice fits into any genre of “Black music”. He toured with the famous Gospel group “The Jackson Singers” on a regular basis. With them as well as with his own projects, he acts as a featured front man, singer, flutist and percussionist.
Also Ebo’ s strong personality fascinates when he hits the stage. All audiences have noticed his gift of being a great show person immediately. The Germany-based artist always has a message for his listeners. He tells stories singing and playing his instruments.
From Germany, he went on to The Hague in order to check out the “North Sea Jazz Festival”. This is where Ebo met many old friends from the U.S., including Shirley Horn and Dizzy Gillespie. Dizzy told him, his flutist James Moody had missed a flight and asked him to jump in for him. “Be downstairs at 8 p.m.”, Dizzy told him. A few hours later, Ebo Shakoor found himself performing with one of the greatest Jazz legends in front of 5,000 people. After a breakfast with Sarah Vaughan and other legends, Ebo returned to Germany, where he was asked to join “El Duo Flamenco” for a European tour, which he did several times. Back in the U.S., Ebo played for the Premier of China, Zhu Rongii during a celebration with San Francisco’s Mayor Dianne Feinstein at city hall. Shortly after, he won The Gold Award for his soundtrack for the documentary the Hopi ´´People of Peace”.
In 1989, Ebo Shakoor´ s house got damaged seriously during the big earthquake in San Francisco. During that time, he also saw the Berlin Wall coming down on TV. “This was a wake-up call for me”, Ebo says today. “It was time to get out of there and find my direction a little bit more”. Again, Ebo traveled to Europe.
In Frankfurt, he played in Drum’n’Bass groups, Funk bands and Jazz combos. At the “Expo” in Sevilla (Spain), he played for the German pavilion. In 1992, Ebo Shakoor met the road manager for the Blues/Funk legend Gil Scott- Heron. He was hired immediately.
Several long tours throughout Europe followed. With Gil’s band, Ebo hit countless stages in Paris, London (Jazz Café), Oxford, Glasgow, Berne, Zurich, Barcelona, Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich and many other cities. After those tours, Ebo started composing more. He had many ideas and recorded CDs with his different projects. Ebo says: “In 2002 I thought about different ways to write songs which would express all the experiences which I had in the past 20 years”. That’s how his brilliant project Jazzicals was born.
After great success and touring with Jazzicals, Ebo attended Jazz festivals from Sofia in Bulgaria to Iyäss in Finland in 2004. That same year Shakoor was still performing with the gospel group the Jackson Singers. Shakoor continued to explore more with the World beat and Neo-Soul with singer Helen “Njoki” Taylor a.k.a Helen T. of Technotronics the last vocalist of the dance hit “Pump up the Jam”. Together they formulated the group “Njokebo”. Which is a mixture of Jazz, Neo-Soul, and World beat. They were performing throughout Europe from 2005 to 2007. With the struggle of cancer with Helen T. she departed on March the 21st.
Ebo Shakoor was born in Washington D.C. in the 50´s when Be-Bop was fading out and Cool and Modern jazz was in, with a big influence of John Coltrane Miles Davis and Ornette Coleman at home until the 60´s. As a student of sociology, in 1972, Ebo intensified his flute playing. He practiced 4 hours a day in between university classes. Several Funk-bands hired him for concerts in the U.S. capital.
At the D.C.-Jazz club “Harold’s Roque & Jar” in the Dupont Circle area, he became a frequent guest, performing and listening to stars such as Shirley Horn, Marshall Hawkins (who later became the bass player for Miles Davis. In 1976, Ebo Shakoor left Washington D.C. for Nevada in order to pursue his musical studies. At the University Of Nevada in Las Vegas, he studied with Billy Byers, who is famous for the arrangements he did for Frank Sinatra and Quincy Jones. Later, Ebo went on to California. He was seen and heard on stage at the famous “Keystone Corner” in San Francisco in 1977. He usually played with pianist George Cables Looking back, Ebo says, “I wanted to do something more challenging and individualistic after doing Ragtime.” He hung out with students in Berkley (California), getting back into percussion playing as well, while meeting many fellow musicians.
Ebo Shakoor returned to Washington D.C. and got into the Free Jazz scene. With Teddy Smith (who used to be the bassist with Horace Silver) and other colleagues, he would soon tour the U.S. East Coast. Also Ebo played with Max Roach the 1st jazz Master to recognize Ebo´ s talent Don Cherry invited him to play in his orchestra as well. During a longer stay in Jamaica, Ebo explored African influences of percussion more. “I was impressed by the Kunima and Nayibinge the sounds of the slaves in JAMAICA”. It definitely influenced me. The spirit of Africa could be felt much stronger in Jamaica than in the U.S.”.
Back in Washington D.C. he finally met Dizzy Gillespie while performing at the “Blues Alley”. At the same time, Ebo Shakoor started thinking about exploring the European Jazz culture. He spoke to many fellow musicians who told him that Jazz and musical individuality was appreciated more overseas. So he arrived in Frankfurt in 1981, where he immediately started playing at famous clubs such as the “Jazzkeller”.
in 2008. Ebo returned to the stage in 2009 in Vienna, Austria performing in the George Gershwin Gala with an emotional impact in singing the classics hits from Porgy and Bess and flute, percussion with the orchestra. When Ebo received the call in spring of 2010 that Gil Scott-Heron is touring in Europe for his new CD “I’m new here” Shakoor was welcomed with open arms from Gil saying in joking manner “You want a job” with laughter and emotional arrival on stage with a legend. Ebo continued to tour with Gil, Shakoor traveled to Ghana in West Africa for his own personal discovery of his roots. Having the opportunity to perform and give joy to his people was fulfilled and so he came back to Germany with his heart full of melodies, harmonies and rhythms. In the start of the year 2011 Ebo Shakoor signed with Chubb Records in Germany. With the help of his friend Paul Amrod, a composer and pianist, Shakoor completed Jazzicals Vol. 2, but Ebo wasn’t pleased with what he witnessed in Africa. “It was appalling to see my people being slaves to their own after 400 years, it is still going on. This was an ambitious effort of Ebo Shakoor to bring awareness of Modern Day Slavery. His bravery and steadfastness has placed Shakoor in a category of a musical abolitionist. Shakoor´ s Global Exodus to Freedom will be the first as a Jazz, R&B and World Beat artist with eleven compositions revealing all the issues of M.D.S. for 2011. Ebo is not new to the cause for human rights and ecological problems. One of his first compositions from San Francisco in 1987 “Nelson Mandela he must be free” and 1989 with “Whatever happened to this world” ironically at the same time the 7.7 earthquake in San Francisco. Shakoor strongly believe that music and art can influence the masses to act positively to stop the cruel acts upon humanity. Regardless of genre or style, Shakoor´ s unbiased dedication to the music is a lifetime passion. From festivals, clubs, concert halls, private engagements, parks and schools Ebo treats his audience the same, One Love, One Family, One Destiny.