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.