It is one of the most successful examples of community self-determination in our world, and one of its stated goals is "to conduct free training for disadvantaged city youth." Among the best-known graduates of the organization's music school is percussionist Kahil El'-
Zabar, who, for over thirty years has been leading various groups, including the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, which is dedicated to the full realization of the AACM motto, "Great black music, ancient to the future."
Over the decades a number of musicians have been members of the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble. Currently, it consists of (besides El'Zabar) saxophonist Edward Dawkins, guitarist Fareed Haque, and trumpeter Corey Wilkes. All are established musicians who also lead their own groups. Dawkins, who joined the band less than a decade ago, is also a product of the AACM music school, where he has been teaching since 1978. Wilkes, the youngest of the four, returned to Chicago after graduating from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and quickly established himself as one of the premier trumpet players in the city; he is now a member of the AACM's flagship group, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, replacing the late Lester Bowie. Guitarist Haque performs in a wide variety of contexts, from classical to jazz and rock, and blends South Asian as well as Middle Eastern elements into his playing. The Heritage Ensemble has released a number of well-received CDs over the years, and a new one with the current lineup will be available in March.