SONS OF KEMET

Eclectic Fusion / World Fusion • United Kingdom
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Sons of Kemet are a Caribbean and Afro-influenced jazz supergroup and boast two drummers alongside tuba and woodwinds.

Sons of Kemet are a U.K.-based jazz supergroup combining four musicians from around the globe. Led by saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer Shabaka Hutchings, Oren Marshall on tuba, and the duo of Seb Rochford and Tom Skinner on percussion and drums, this project started in the spring 2011. Their first concert was very well-received by an audience of jazz enthusiasts at Charlie Wright's International bar in London.

The sound of Sons of Kemet was developed in a lengthy process of practice and searching, and was largely inspired by Hutchings' research, drive, and passion. He was born in London and spent the majority of his childhood growing up in Barbados, where he studied the clarinet and played in a variety of calypso and reggae bands. On his return to the U.K, he studied at the
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SONS OF KEMET Discography

SONS OF KEMET albums / top albums

SONS OF KEMET Burn album cover 3.98 | 3 ratings
Burn
Eclectic Fusion 2013
SONS OF KEMET Lest We Forget What We Came Here to Do album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Lest We Forget What We Came Here to Do
Eclectic Fusion 2015
SONS OF KEMET Your Queen Is A Reptile album cover 4.02 | 4 ratings
Your Queen Is A Reptile
World Fusion 2018
SONS OF KEMET Black To The Future album cover 3.48 | 2 ratings
Black To The Future
Eclectic Fusion 2021

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SONS OF KEMET Reviews

SONS OF KEMET Black To The Future

Album · 2021 · Eclectic Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
snobb
Being a scene leader has its pros and cons. From the positive side, you are known, you have your followers and each of your new works is awaited. From the other side, there are expectations, a lot of them. And it's not an easy job to fulfill all of them. Some fans are waiting for another album of the music they know and like and any change in direction can disappoint them. Others are happy with what you already did but are not much interested in another "same" recording, so they are expecting from you something new. Doesn't matter what you do, some of your fans will be disappointed.

Shabaka Hutchings, who with no doubt is one of the leaders of the burgeoning London jazz scene, runs three different projects trying to solve above mentioned problems in a best possible way, and quite often he succeeds in it.

On "Back To Future" - the newest album from his most eclectic project Sons Of Kemet - is obvious continuation of quartet's previous work, extremely successful "Your Queen Is A Reptile", with some insignificant modifications.

On "Your Queen Is A Reptile", the band's debut on Impulse!, the quartet of sax player, tubist and two drummers went back to African roots, adding more percussive vibes with a big list of guesting additional drummers. Rapper/vocalist Joshua Idehen has been presented on the opener and closer, for the first time (both two early quartet albums were fully instrumental). On "Back To Future", Shabaka uses same formula, when Joshua Idehen opens and closes the show, but there are more guest vocalists on the album (incl. Angel Bat Dawid), as a result, whole recording sounds more as "singing music", rather than just instrumental. And Shabaka adds more brass instead of percussion too. From the musical side we have same Caribbean flavored marching semi melancholic tunes, just less percussive and slightly polished with electronics.

Shabaka obviously trying not to lose a successful formula of the previous album, only slightly modifying and refreshing the sound. As a result, we got an evolutional, not revolutionary work, still with easy recognizable Shabaka's sound.

SONS OF KEMET Your Queen Is A Reptile

Album · 2018 · World Fusion
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snobb
They say there's no jazz for young people? Wrong, just look at the burgeoning London jazz scene! British-Caribbean reedsman Shabaka Hutchings rules there with his space jazz project, Comet Is Coming, plus Afrobeat Ancestors and the spiritual jazz of Sons Of Kemet.

New "Sons'..." album (already third) is just released and it burns. If Shabaka's "Comet..." is hardly jazz in traditional sense with lot of danceable electronics, "Sons..." music is rooted in jazz tradition for sure. Its an unorthodox band containing sax player, tuba player and two drummers playing music which comes right from the Paris clubs of the late 60s (Art Ensemble of Chicago's early European years) and London's Notting Hill of the late 70s (read - 2-Tone ska). Add modern rap on some songs (in a nod to the Afrocentric poets of the late 60s) - there it is.

Even more - "Your Queen Is a Reptile" is a politically sharp criticism on the British Monarchy, growing nationalism and anti-immigration moods. By its atmosphere this music is closer to BLM and anti-fa punk than more conservative jazz. Shabaka builds his own Monarchy by coronation of more or less known black women (incl. activist Angela Davis, Harriet Tubman, Ashanti queen mother Yaa Asantewaa and yes - his own great-grand mother Ada Eastman among others). Possibly surprising, the album's music is not particularly angry at all, more relaxed and even danceable in moments.

Right from the very first seconds of the opener, "My Queen is Ada Eastman", the listener is caught by the drummers' African rhythms and sax/tuba tight collaboration (ok, vocalist Joshua Idehen's rap is a matter of taste, but many will dig it). Then you get Caribbean tunes, dub and more African rhythms - all spiced with quite free jazz sax and tuba solos. Different from decades of modern jazz evolution, where complexity is usually a mandatory attribute of the genre, "Sons..." keep their music in the pocket.

The single (and one of the strongest album's songs) "My Queen Is Harriet Tubman", has been released prior to the album's release and received strong media exposure, start on this one in case of doubt. It's interesting that the album itself is released on legendary in past "true" jazz label "Impulse!", home for John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders among many other jazz greats of their generation.

Here is a jazz for our modern days, returning back to the streets, and away from concert halls, arrogant city intellectual clubs and marginals fests, becoming people's music as it was in the late 60s (and as it was with the punk/ska explosion in London in the late 70s).

SONS OF KEMET Burn

Album · 2013 · Eclectic Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
snobb
During sixties and than seventies England spent wearing a crown of one of world's leading nation representing to the whole world rock culture, all that music,worship,life style and hysteria. The Beatles,Rolling Stones,Cream,Led Zeppelin,Deep Purple,Black Sabbath and even Sex Pistols - British acts ruled the world. Speaking about more artsy/quirky than mainstream rock side-stream of so-called "progressive rock", England was and still is absolutely dominating origin. The story of jazz in Britain are far not so glorious.

True, this country gave to the world some greatest musicians as guitarists Derek Bailey and John McLaughlin, bassist Dave Holland and reedist Evans Parker, but it's hard to speak about influential or at least easy recognizable British jazz scene doesn't matter if we mean 50s,60s or 70s. Eighties were the only exclusively glorious period with birth and short but impressive invasion to the all world's scenes of acid jazz (who doesn't know Jamiroquay,renown hats and cars collector?). Still, acid jazz (even if demonstrating some true jazz attributes) was more part of modern clubbing culture and influenced much more later non-jazzy DJs/electronics trends than "classic" jazz.

New Millennium bring some changes in that historically sad situation and (mostly with nu jazz invasion) English new jazz scene became not only much more alive, hip and creative, but now, after a decade of renaissance, to think about London as about European jazz capital doesn't sound as a joke.

From Portico, mixing unusual sound of hang with electronics,to almost cult chamber piano trio of Phronesis to younger and less serious GoGo Penguin,British nu/contemporary jazz artists won strong following in Europe. Beside of them and similar, there are different stream of modern jazz in UK, and Sons Of Kemet are among its brightest representatives.

Grew up in same post-progressive rock/acid jazz/techno-clubbing sound environment, the quartet of two drummers and tuba player led by reedist Shabaka Hutchings on their debut album go their own way. "Sons.." combine African rhythms (not Afrojazz,but more street-wise folklore rooted raw ones) with Caribbean calypso and reggae adding British rock-scene so characteristic melodic tunes. All that are presented in quite hip form of today's clubbing culture, without losing its rawness.

As a result, "Sons Of Kemet" sounds as modern incarnation of South African jazz artists,who seriously influenced British jazz (and rock) in late 60s-early 70s, or ska revolution of late 70s-early 80s. Band doesn't care much about virtuosity, their arms are raw rhythms, New Orleans' marching bands shamanism and in whole very modern urban sound (one of two band's drummers is Seb Rochford, founder and leader of another hip British band,Polar Bear). Big part of album's songs are catchy and can easily attract much wider listener than regular jazz fan (closer "Rivers Of Babylon" is freaky cover of Boney M.'s disco hit from 80s), but at the same time serious listener can find lot of free jazz elements almost everywhere.

With their debut, "Sons Of Kemet" jumped on the forefront of British creative jazz scene in a very few month, but later released just one more album. It's difficult to say what are their future plans if any since band's leader Shabaka Hutchins in 2016 released his strongly African music and spiritual jazz influenced debut as leader "Wisdom Of Elders" (on Gilles Peterson Brownswood Recordings). In all cases, Sons Of Kemet debut is significant evidence of most current original British jazz and it sounds pretty fresh and modern today as it did four years ago.

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