Shabaka Hutchings isn’t a name that is overly familiar on this side of the pond, but the young British saxophonist had been garnering serious attention in his native London, receiving a slew of awards along the way. However, his latest endeavor under the moniker Shabaka and the Ancestors transports us thousands of miles away from Big Ben into the country of South Africa. Fascinated by the country’s rich musical heritage, Hutchings has travelled to South Africa on several occasions to play and learn from its musicians, notably Mandla Mlangeni, bandleader of the Amandla Freedom Ensemble. These trips to Johannesburg culminated last year into a recording session with seven local musicians which became Wisdom of Elders. The album, released just last week on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings, has been making waves throughout Europe all the way to North America. The music for Wisdom of Elders, a psalm in nine parts, was written by Hutchings in the tradition of jazz only to be transformed and adapted to incorporate South African sounds and rhythms. The result truly breaks the mold and transcends genre to form an intense and spiritual experience slightly reminiscent of Kamasi Washington’s The Epic. You can stream four tracks from the album below.
Sébastien Hélary co-founded Nextbop in 2009 with the objective of introducing modern jazz music to a younger generation of fans. Aside from music, his other main obsession is food, particularly ramen and other Japanese delicacies.