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SHABAKA & THE ANCESTORS

Shabaka & The Ancestors

We Were Sent Here By History

Shabaka Hutchings is a British-Barbadian jazz saxophonist, clarinetist and band leader. He leads the bands Sons of Kemet and Shabaka and the Ancestors. He is also a member of The Comet Is Coming, performing under the stage name King Shabaka. S&TA project was formed in early 2016, leading to their debut album later that year ‘Wisdom of Elders’; a document of sessions combining Hutchings with a group of South African jazz musicians he’d long admired. His connection to the group was Mandla Mlangeni (bandleader of the Amandla Freedom Ensemble), whom he’d flown there to play with over the past few years. ‘We Are Sent Here by History’ is a meditation on the fact of our coming extinction as a species. It is a reflection from the ruins, from the burning. A questioning of the steps to be taken in preparation for our transition individually and societally if the end is to be seen as anything but a tragic defeat. For those lives lost and cultures dismantled by centuries of western expansionism, capitalist thought and white supremist structural hegemony the end days have long been heralded as present with this world experienced as an embodiment of a living purgatory. 


TRACK LISTING

Side 1
1. Mzwandile (13:32)
2. Joyous (6:39)
Side 2
1. The Observer (9:06)
2. The Sea (11:45)
Side 3
1. The Observed (1:43)
2. Natty (10:00)
3. OBS (5:10)
Side 4
1. Give Thanks (8:08)
2. Nguni (9:25)

Shabaka And The Ancestors

Wisdom Of Elders

    Tradition shapes your work. For saxophonist and bandleader Shabaka Hutchings, that’s something he’s long understood. After years spent in the orbit of London’s jazz circuit, he examines and reimagines his influences with a dexterity that’s unique. Drawing out the vision underlying his new album, he says, “I see energy as being a form of wisdom to be passed down through the ages.” Unpicking the album’s title, he continues, “When we study the music, the lives, the words of our master musicians we obtain a glimpse of that artist’s essential energy source. This is the core vitality of the individual which leads them to utilise the musical specifics of their chosen genre in a way that mirrors their inner source of power. This is an intuited wisdom that’s handed to us from the legacies of our elders.” The album is a document of sessions combining Hutchings with a group of South African jazz musicians he’s long admired. His connection to the group was Mandla Mlangeni (bandleader of the Amandla Freedom Ensemble), whom he’d flown there to play with over the past few years. Recorded across just one day, the group drew on their South African lineage – heroes like Zim Ngquwana and Bheki Mseleku – to bring their own slant to the American jazz lineage being reconfigured in Hutchings’ compositions themselves. Going beyond the jazz greats Hutchings cites, influences are drawn from plenty of other sources: Caribbean calypso, central African song structures and Southern African Nguni music all play a part. Bringing together those ideas with the contributions of his bandmates is, he explains, crucial to what he sees in the role of an album artist. “Even though I wrote all the music, for me, the leader of the project isn’t the person who writes all the music but the one who has a vision for how certain musical elements will be combined.” Born in London, moving to the Barbados from the age of six to 16, his tenor sax has become a regular sight on stages around London and beyond since his return. Receiving awards from Jazz FM and the MOBOs for playing in – and often leading – groups like Sons of Kemet, The Comet Is Coming, Melt Yourself Down and Sun Ra Arkestra, he’s part of a generation whose idea of jazz is pointedly unrefined. That’s to say, "Wisdom of Elders" comes from an artist interested in the indefinable gaps more than fitting into boxes. 

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Mzawandile
    2. Joyous
    3. The Observer
    4. The Sea
    5. The Observed
    6. Natty
    7. OBS
    8. Give Thanks
    9. Nguni


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