London jazz frontrunner confirmed for Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2020
Over the last decade, saxophonist and composer Shabaka Hutchings has established himself as a central figure on the London jazz scene, which is enjoying its greatest creative awakening since the 1960s.
Hutchings has a restlessly creative and refreshingly open-minded spirit, playing in a variety of groups and expressing himself as bandleader in three distinct bands. In The Comet is Coming, he rages on his tenor saxophone as an electronics-augmented rhythm section dances as if at an all-night ritual. In Sons of Kemet, Hutchings leads a guttural four-piece of sophisticated rhythms, punching through melody and meter as they take shots at the European hierarchy. Shabaka and The Ancestors represent Hutchings’ headlong foray into spiritual jazz and Afrofuturism with a band of South African musicians.
In early 2020, The Ancestors will return with their hotly anticipated second album, released on the iconic Impulse! label, home to the spiritual jazz legend John Coltrane.
‘We Are Sent Here by History’ is a meditation on the fact of our coming extinction as a species. It is a reflection from the ruins, from the burning. A questioning of the steps to be taken in preparation for our transition individually and societally if the end is to be seen as anything but a tragic defeat. For those lives lost and cultures dismantled by centuries of western expansionism, capitalist thought and white supremist structural hegemony the end days have long been heralded as present with this world experienced as an embodiment of a living purgatory.
Born in London, Hutchings moved to Birmingham at age two, then relocated to Barbados at six, remaining there til he was 16 (after which he returned to England). He began to play clarinet in the school band, and the calypso and soca music of Barbados’ Carnival provided Hutching’s first musical memories. He studied classical clarinet at London’s Guildhall but is virtually self-taught as a jazz saxophonist: much of his learning has come from the proving grounds of the London jazz scene, embracing influences from the sounds of London’s diverse club culture, including house, grime, jungle, and dub.
He has performed and recorded with artists such as Soweto Kinch, Mulatu Astatke, Sun Ra Arkestra, Louis Moholo, Makaya McCraven, Yussef Kamaal, Pete Wareham, Dean Blunt and Hieroglyphic Being, before gathering a substantial number of awards and nominations as a bandleader with Shabaka and the Ancestors, Sons of Kemet and The Comet Is Coming.
“I guess that’s an aspect of being a part of a musical diaspora,” says Hutchings. “Not being from the place that jazz is born from means that I don’t feel any ultimate reverence to it. It’s just about finding ways of reinterpreting how we’re thinking about the music, re-envisioning it, just like completely decontextualizing it and saying it’s up for grabs.”
“Shabaka And the Ancestors, a collaboration with a collective of South Africa musicians which kicked off with the marvelous 2016 album, Wisdom of the Elders, is Hutchings’ most overt attempt to express the spiritual concerns of improvisational music of the African Diaspora — specifically, SA’s rich tradition of gospel melody, community outspokenness, and jazz power — in the context of today’s world.” – Afropunk
Copenhagen Jazz Festival and the legendary venue Loppen continue last year’s collaboration and join forces with a new, progressive late night concert series in 2020. Shabaka and The Ancestors is headlining Loppen with their first concert in Denmark on July 11, 22:00.