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 at Elsewhere articles index

Surf City: Kudos (Arch Hill)

Surf City: Kudos (Arch Hill)

Possibly because this young Auckland four-piece have all that rolling energy of early Flying Nun acts (the Chills and the Clean especially) but turn it up to 11 and make it fat, it has hijacked my... > Read more

Brett Adams: Black Clouds in Stereo (Rattle/bandcamp)

Brett Adams: Black Clouds in Stereo (Rattle/bandcamp)

If music were a sport, Auckland guitarist Brett Adams would be the one making quick, impressive, ground-gaining plays which bring the crowd to its feet before he slips the ball neatly to someone... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE BARGAIN BUY: John Lee Hooker; Boogie Chillun

THE BARGAIN BUY: John Lee Hooker; Boogie Chillun

Anyone who still doubts the truth of the Muddy Waters song The Blues Had a Baby And They Named It Rock And Roll need only look at this double CD collection. Among the 50 songs are titles which... > Read more

Ocean Colour Scene: Here in my Heart

Ocean Colour Scene: Here in my Heart

It was one of the saddest days I can recall, and yet it had started out so well in Birmingham, a place where I had been drawn to interview the Britpop band Ocean Colour Scene in their hometown. It... > Read more