In recent years, the most vital, inclusive, and innovative jazz scene on earth has shifted east across the Atlantic to London, and the figure that stands atop this revolution is saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings and his band Sons of Kemet. The Birmingham-raised Hutchings spent the formative years of his youth in Barbados, an island rife with reminders of Britain’s colonial history, where the budding artist first picked up the saxophone and where the seeds of his creative aesthetic in the roots of the African diaspora were planted.
A multi-faceted instrumentalist and composer whose influence has spread far beyond the U.K., Hutchings leads the collaborative octet Shabaka and the Ancestors with a group of South African musicians and the electro-acoustic Afrofuturist trio Comet is Coming, but Sons of Kemet remains Hutchings’ longest running and most personal creative outlet. Consisting of a unique two drummer, tuba, and saxophone lineup, the quartet blends relentless dance-ready rhythms culled from the calypso and soca of the Caribbean and the New Orleans brass band tradition with roots in West Africa and a decidedly abrasive rock club energy. Championed by tastemaking British DJ and Brownswood Recordings founder Gilles Peterson, the band has recorded a trio of albums including their 2018 Impulse! Records debut, Your Queen is a Reptile.
«Now more than ever, the easiest answer to that pesky question — what’s keeping jazz vital these days? — appears to lie in London. And much of the serious activity there runs through Shabaka Hutchings.» -The New York Times