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Shabaka Hutchings: past, present and future

Door Marc Zisman |

The British saxophonist teams up with South African collective The Ancestors to deliver a whirlwind album that is as politicall minded as it is mad.

In 2016, Shabaka Hutchings made his debut with Impulse! with Your Queen is a Reptile, recorded with Sons of Kemet. Since his beginnings, the saxophonist and posterboy for the blossoming new British jazz scene has collaborated with plenty of artists (Sun Ra Arkestra, Heliocentrics, Anthony Joseph, Floating Points) and beefed up plenty of groups (The Comet Is Coming, Melt Yourself Down). With Shabaka & The Ancestors, he is joined by musicians from Johannesburg for an eclectic and engaged jazz record, blending spirituality and shamanic feelings.

Four years after Wisdom of Elder, We Are Sent Here By History continues the South African adventure. Once again surrounded by a subtle but powerful rhythm section (bassist Ariel Zamonsky, drummer Tumi Mogorosi and percussionist Gontse Makhene), an inspired wind section (alto saxophonist Mthunzi Mvubu and trumpeter Mandla Mlangeni) and pianists Nduduzo Makhathini and Thandi Ntuli, Shabaka creates solid links between a jazz inherited by Sun Ra, Pharaoh Sanders and Don Cherry and the vast plethora that is African music.

Zulu chants (We Will Work (On Redefining Manhood)) and texts sung by Siyabonga Mthembu that touch on ecology as much as the relationships between men and women reinforce this torrent of music. We Are Sent Here By History (better than its predecessor) is a snapshot of an era which questions the future of its protagonists, but is also a study of the values and sounds to conquer the future.


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