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Matthew Ruddick

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Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Saturday, 09 May 2020 23:43

Shabaka and The Ancestors - We Are Sent Here By History

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We Are Sent Here By History is an apocalyptic revelation from Shabaka and The Ancestors.

We Are Sent Here By History is Shabaka Hutchings second studio album release for the nostalgic Impulse! label which is also home to John Coltrane amongst other jazz icons. 

Initially, my mind was not made up after listening to this critically acclaimed artist whose music is synonymous with contemporary, spiritual and afro-jazz. My mind said "be critical!", but the more I listened to each track my heart pounded with apprehension. Yes! What a relief. All of the tracks deliver great melodic and atomic-fused beats.

Hutchings says "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 living purgatory."

Hutchings makes a profound statement, and it's taken me a while, but I get him. He is in the big league now and a rapidly rising international star. This is his tabernacle. 

The album walks the path of the African - Caribbean connection, and it features African poet Siyabonga Mthembu. Much like the well-served reference book we read and carried to school; the album also serves as a point of reference. It provides a brief recap on history, yet is also the harbinger to man's downfall. The message is not meant to be cheerful, and few listeners will get the meaning. Most will just enjoy the music, but a scattering will get both. 

This is a great album, and Hutchings does not disappoint. It is packed with 11 incredibly good tunes.

One does not have to be a muso or play an instrument to appreciate the compelling performance by all the members. The choruses play the dominant melodic rhythm for most parts. The beats are raw and tribal. They Who Must Die punches in at an astonishing 155 beats per minute with a frenzied and sustained attack for the whole 10 minutes. The music is charged with the African rhythms as Mthembu directs adrenaline-fuelled chants to the band "Jesus and Spirits - African Time, We are sent here by history, Burn the bass." With its melodic rhythm, this track is catch .

Listen to They Who Must Die here:

Hutchings' and Mthunzi Myubu's saxophones really connect in Finally, The Man Cried. This is good stuff. Gontse Makhene delivers a flow of percussive beats along with a gratifying 'drum and bass' bassline played by Ariel Zamonsky, and it's just more good music. 6 minutes of wow! 

The energy felt from this album is all bountiful and leaves me bushed. Behold The Deceiver is a jewel. The enchanting ethereal chimes and brass play out to a 6/8 pattern, and Mvubu's alto-sax is the nucleus of this tra

The Hutchings and Mthembu connection radiates with creativity, and are they are genuinely bonded like ancestors.

This album grows on you. Now. This is not the album I first heard. It's a better album.

 

  

Credits:

Shabaka Hutchings - Tenor Sax and clarinet

Mthunzi Mvubu - Alto Sax

Siyabonga Mthembu - Vocals

Ariel Zamonsky – Double bass

Gontse Makhene - Percussion

Tumi Mogorosi – Drums

Nduduzo Makhathini (Fender Rhodes), Thandi Ntuli (piano), Mandla Mlangeni (trumpet) on select tracks

 

 

Label: Impulse!

 

Read 2569 times Last modified on Sunday, 10 May 2020 08:03

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