Sons of Kemet: Your Queen is a Reptile (Impulse!)

 |   |  1 min read

My Queen is Angela Davis
  Sons of Kemet: Your Queen is a Reptile (Impulse!)

Recorded in London, this third album by the saxophonist/composer Shabaka Hutchings brings together tenor sax, double drums and tuba into a stew of Afro-Caribbean jazz-funk and, as much as the Sex Pistols' God Save the Queen during the Queen Elizabeth's jubilee year, in its own way this is direct dismissal of those born into royalty while Hutchings titles his tracks after those who became real queens in his mind.

They include Ada Eastman (Hutchings great-grandmother), Harriet Tubman, Anna Julia Cooper, Angela Davis and other black freedom fighters and activists. Including Doreen Lawrence, the mother of young Stephen Lawrence murdered in London in '93.

Musically it is a humid mix of rolling New Orleans grooves, some rather chunky Caribbean funk with guest vocalists Congo Natty and poet Joshua Idehen chanting down righteousness, and a nod towards dub production.

The players certainly have pedigree, among them are Seb Rochford (of Polar Bear etc) and tuba player Theon Cross provides the grounding at the seriously wobbling and exciting bottom end.

Maybe it comes up more compelling and powerful live but this lacks the adventurous musical spirit and reach of Hutchings predecessors on the label like Pharoah Sanders, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and others.

Like so many Afrobeat bands (and they aren't in that bag, that's just a point of reference), this locks into a groove and seems happy enough to sit there with sometimes repetitive sax lines and melodic figures which too often pull back inside when the door is wide open.

Ironically then it is at its best when it pulls right back on My Queen is Nanny of the Maroons, a gentle and groove-riding piece with a light touch.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

The Pogues: 30:30 (Rhino)

The Pogues: 30:30 (Rhino)

Few bands did bruised romanticism, battered beauty and boozy narratives as well as the Pogues. In Shane MacGowan they had a songwriter who was a poet of the streets with his heart in some... > Read more

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Paul Simon: So Beautiful Or So What (Hear Music)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Paul Simon: So Beautiful Or So What (Hear Music)

One of the things Paul Simon is seldom given credit for is his sense of humor. He too often comes off the kind of earnest New York Jewish singer-songwriter you imagine reads Dostoevsky at night but... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE BEST MUSIC OF ELSEWHERE IN 2018: The shape of things that came

THE BEST MUSIC OF ELSEWHERE IN 2018: The shape of things that came

Rather than wait a year to look back at the best albums to come out in 2018, Elsewhere though it would get a jump on the game and reflect back on the year to come and single out the best ever of... > Read more

Flagstaff, Arizona: Night of the hunter

Flagstaff, Arizona: Night of the hunter

Brent was a mountain man. That said, as he sat in the bar of the Monte Vista Hotel in Flagstaff -- drinking what I took to be another of the many whiskies he'd got through before I arrived -- he... > Read more