Shabaka and the Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History (Impulse!/digital outlets)

 |   |  1 min read

Shabaka and the Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History (Impulse!/digital outlets)

Shabaka Hutchings – of The Comet is Coming, Sons of Kemet and other evolving UK jazz/funk ensembles alongside this one – has advanced a strand of retro-Afrofuturism which links to Sun Ra, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Don Cherry and others.

And given those references it is fitting that the group – back after their Wisdom of the Elders in 2016 – should now be on the Impulse! label alongside the Comet and Kemet releases.

Recorded in South Africa and connecting with the urgency of township jive kicked over into post-Coltrane jazz, We Are Sent Here By History owes as much to the gripping energy of Impulse! artists such as Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp, and cutting-edge Sonny Rollins and Pharoah Sanders, as it does to the apocalyptic lyrics of Jo'burg poet/performer Siyabonga Mthembu and a look at black history which has called us to this point.

It's a “meditation on the fact of our coming extinction as a species. It is a reflection from the ruins, from the burning,” says Hutchings.

You certainly get that from many pieces (They Who Must Die) which have an innate tension and energy as much as from the reflective pieces (Go My Heart Go to Heaven).

It has plenty to say for itself: We Will Work (On Redefining Manhood) revives the angry spirit of the Art Ensemble and the Last Poets to lay out the ground for a more affirmative second half.

This is a powerful ensemble capable of great nuance – check how Go My Heart winds down into a meditative coda, and the final reflective piece Teach Me How to Be Vulnerable – as well as commanding energy (the brief free expression of Beasts Too Spoke of Suffering which becomes a clarion call of great, Exodus-like weight) and a spiritual joy (Run The Darkness Will Pass).

This is the kind of muscular and expressive album confirming the viability of 21stcentury jazz which exists in the present but pulls from key aspects of the diverse traditions of black American and African musics.

Highly recommended.

southboundshoplogoAvailable on Spotify hereFor the double vinyl edition check out Southbound Records in Auckland who stock a great range of music such as this.

Their website is here.



Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Jazz articles index

Ella Fitzgerald: Ella at Zardi's (Verve/Universal)

Ella Fitzgerald: Ella at Zardi's (Verve/Universal)

Last year was Ella's. It was the centenary of her birth in Virginia and 21 years after her death. Between those two points the great Ella became one of the most sophisticated, classy and... > Read more

Reuben Bradley: Cthulhu Rising (Rattle Jazz)

Reuben Bradley: Cthulhu Rising (Rattle Jazz)

First in passing, a comment about the consistency of packaging of CDs on the Rattle and Rattle Jazz labels: they are excellent and make the CD into an art object. That is enhanced especially on... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

GUEST COMMENTATOR SIMON GRIGG on New Zealand's patchy history of political songs

GUEST COMMENTATOR SIMON GRIGG on New Zealand's patchy history of political songs

The story of political song in New Zealand is a mixed one. It goes from almost nothing to a flood to a trickle. For much of the history of popular song in New Zealand we simply did not make... > Read more

GUEST MUSICIAN SCOTTY ROCKER explains how hard rocking Kiwis are cutting it up in distant Sweden

GUEST MUSICIAN SCOTTY ROCKER explains how hard rocking Kiwis are cutting it up in distant Sweden

In 2012 I decided it was time for a massive change. I had spent so many years playing music in New Zealand and always seemed to get to the same place. Through all the touring and traveling... > Read more