Shabaka: Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace (Impulse/digital outlets)

 |   |  1 min read

Shabaka: Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace (Impulse/digital outlets)

It doesn't seem that long ago that “jazz flute” was considered a joke.

Thank you, Ron Burgundy.

But there is a great tradition of jazz flute through daring players like Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Don Cherry to the quiet considerations of Paul Horn playing inside the Taj Mahal, Alice Coltrane's Indo-spiritualism and Tony Scott's Music for Zen Meditation.

Saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings has been one of the most influential figures in British jazz in the past decade in Sons of Kemet and The Comet is Coming, among other ensembles.

However he has apparently decided to put saxophone down for a while for this debut album under his own name where he plays various flutes and is backed by piano and harp with singers Moses Sumney and Laraaji among others.

This is music as a spiritual journey stopping just the right side of New Age but edging into different cultures through the sounds of Mayan, Native American and Japanese flutes.

Recorded and improvised at Rudy Van Gelder's famous New Jersey studio (where so many Blue Note albums were created), we can often hear Hutchings' breath which becomes part of the sonic palette on the quieter pieces.

But there also some more uptempo pieces here (the sprightly Body to Inhabit with spoken poetry by Elucid, the weave of flute and Indian drum on Breathing), Sumney provides soulful vocalisation on the delicate Insecurities and a key piece is I'll Do Whatever You Want with Laraaji, Andre 3000 (on Mayan flute) and electronica artist Floating Points (Sam Shepherd) on synthesizer and vibes.

It drifts purposefully for almost eight minutes and sounds beamed in from German or Cambridge prog artists in the Seventies.

This album doesn't offer the same immediacy as Hutchings' previous projects and not everything here is fully realised in terms of sounding discrete and complete.

But time taken with it is time well spent. And Kiss Me Before I Forget with singer Lianne La Havas is a beautifully weightless ballad before the final piece, Song of the Motherland which is musical setting for a poem by Hutchings' father Anum Iyapo.


You can hear this album at Spotify here

Share It

Your Comments

Rod - Apr 22, 2024

Just listened to a very good interview with Shabaka on his giving up of the saxophone and taking up of the flute on Gilles Peterson's BBCSix show ... can stream for free on the website or app, worth a listen

Rod - Apr 23, 2024

Link …

post a comment

More from this section   Jazz at Elsewhere articles index

Tord Gustavsen Quartet: Extended Circle (ECM/Ode)

Tord Gustavsen Quartet: Extended Circle (ECM/Ode)

Norwegian pianist Gustavsen has made sometime entries at Elsewhere previously, his most notable being the exceptional Being There trio album (with bassist Harald Johnsen, drummer Jarle... > Read more

MURRAY McNABB INTERVIEWED (1947-2013): The new man with the courage to make himself new

MURRAY McNABB INTERVIEWED (1947-2013): The new man with the courage to make himself new

The plan would have been timely: a concert acknowledging the half century he’d known and played in bands with drummer Frank Gibson. But then everything changed. “They gave me a year,... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

EPs by Yasmin Brown

EPs by Yasmin Brown

With so many CDs commanding and demanding attention Elsewhere will run this occasional column by the informed and opinionated Yasmin Brown. She will scoop up some of those many EP releases, in... > Read more

PUNK REVOLUTION NYC, a doco by TOM O'DELL (Chrome Dreams DVD)

PUNK REVOLUTION NYC, a doco by TOM O'DELL (Chrome Dreams DVD)

Because so many who were there at the time are fading or have passed on (just one remaining Ramone from that classic album cover), this deeply detailed double DVD/three and a half hour doco on the... > Read more