Make More Music!

All concerts are free! Donations are accepted!


June 2nd -June 5th, 2022
A Celebration of the Life and Legacy of
Saalik A. Ziyad (June 2nd 1978 – February 12th 2019)


Saalik A. Ziyad ‘Z’ was not only a dynamic performer on keyboards, voice, and electronics. He was an adventurous and inventive composer, and also a unifying and supportive force in Chicago’s music landscape. Exemplifying the spirit of a past generation when musicians crossed porous boundaries among different genres, traditions and idioms, Saalik made consistent, significant contributions to modern jazz, creative improvised, and sacred music.

Saalik began singing at the age of seven. His unique style of song creates deep, melodic vocals that many who have witnessed his craft, soon not forget. ‘Z’ introduction to music was when he was accepted as a member of the Chicago Children’s Choir. This experience opened the door to opportunities to perform with many musical greats including Charlie Haden, Amina Claudine Myers, Willie Pickens, and renowned institutions such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

As a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musician (AACM), ‘Z’ has been able to explore the different areas of creative music by composing and performing with the organization. He is a former student of the AACM and taught in the AACM School of Music since he was 18.

At the age of 40, Saalik had already established himself as a consummate professional musician, brilliant composer, band leader, and arts leader in Chicago. His musical groups “the 5 After 7 Project”, and the “Z Quartet” influences touched Poznan, Poland (Made In Chicago Festival), Europe and the Mediterranean.

Like too many other talented and accomplished jazz artists before him, Saalik made his transition long before any of his contemporaries, friends, family and fans were ready to say goodbye. But it’s hard not to imagine all the accomplishments we might have enjoyed if his life had not ended so soon.

It’s taken some time since his transition to cope with this tremendous loss to our community. But now a number of musicians and artists have come together to celebrate his life, his work, and his enduring legacy by organizing a four-day festival in his honor. The Z FEST II will include some of his closest collaborators and friends, who will pay tribute through music and visual art.

Hello, this is Daaiyah and Taalib-Din Ziyad. This will be the third annual music festival presented in memory of our son, Saalik Ahmad Ziyad, who was an integral part of the world music scene. Saalik was a member and instructor for the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). He began AACM as a student circa 1989. By the time he completed high school, Saalik had performed in South Africa, Russia, and Poland through the AACM, and the Chicago Children’s Choir. He also performed with the Kenwood Academy Concert Choir while in high school. After high school, Saalik performed with the Northern Illinois University Concert Choir, while also being a soloist with NIU’s Jazz band under the direction of Ron Carter. He influenced many of his educational colleagues to become professional musicians. “Make More Music” was Saalik’s slogan.

We would like for this music festival to be an annual event. This year’s festival will be one day only on Saalik’s birthday, Friday, June 2nd. The concert will be held at the Elastic Arts, 3429 W. Diversey, Chicago, IL 60647. Admission to the concert is free, although donations at the door are welcomed.

 For this fundraiser, we are also asking for donations to pay for the expenses of the fest. No amount is too small and we thank you in advance for your contribution. Our goal is $5,000. The musicians performing can be obtained on the website: Look at the Events & Info page on that site for specific schedules (coming soon).

Thank you in advance – the committee (Lewis Achenbach, Jonathan Brooks, Adam Zanolini, Daaiyah A. Ziyad, Taalib-Din Ziyad)

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, maximum capacity for all concerts will be enforced. CDC protocols for outdoor gathering (Arts Bank) will be adhered to and followed. Masks may be required by the venues.

your donations help keep his legacy alive!

z fest III gofundme