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London-born, Hutchings spent much of his childhood in Barbados. Beginning at age nine, he studied the clarinet, playing in calypso bands while studying classical repertoire, often practicing over hip hop beats by artists such as Nas, as well as to the music native to Barbados. He imparted that at the time, “The idea of being a particular ‘type’ of musician who limited themselves by genre was totally alien to me and my peers, it was just about playing with skill and dedication, and whether music moved me or left me cold.”

Consequently, after studying clarinet at Guildhall School of Music from 2004-2008, he collaborated on a kaleidoscopic range of projects: recording and/or touring with Mulatu Astatke and the Heliocentrics, Soweto Kinch, Floating Points and Courtney Pine amongst many other bands, as well as being a part of the London Improvisers Orchestra. He’s also composed pieces for the BBC Concert Orchestra,
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SHABAKA Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace
Nu Jazz 2024

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SHABAKA Afrikan Culture album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Afrikan Culture
Nu Jazz 2022

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SHABAKA Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace

Album · 2024 · Nu Jazz
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I spent last week almost locked in by cold windy and rainy weather in a small apartment in "Dear old Stockholm" (which didn't look all that dear under occasional snowflakes falling around in the second half of April). Under lead-heavy clouds, the only things that brightened my mood there were seagulls' screams flying over the town and a few CDs I took with me for the trip. Shabaka's "Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace" was one of them.

Band leader and reeds player Shabaka Hutchings is with no doubt the most significant figure of a new generation of the London jazz scene. For a decade he dictates musical fashions with his projects, Sons of Kemet, The Comet is Coming and Shabaka & the Ancestors covering the wide range of genres from space-jazz to Afro-beat and avant-garde jazz. Still, till now his music was always very rhythmic, energetic and often explosive.

On "Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace", Shabaka's first real solo album, he plays predominantly flute (not saxophones or bass clarinet, as he usually did before). As a result, we got a very much flute-jazz album, which can be an acquired taste.

Shabaka, quite predictably for such kind of music, starts somewhere between new age and world fusion here on his new album, fortunately he develops it towards more sophisticated and tasteful contemporary jazz with melodic songs and touch of electronics. There is a list of renown musicians participating here, but still it is obvious that Shabaka is an obvious leader. Even playing the music which doesn't associates with him a lot (predominantly Far Eastern, Eastern European and Latin American flutes), Shabaka sounds a bit like Shabaka from Comet... or Shabaka from Sons of Kemet.

Among the guests, there are participating pianist Jason Moran (on two songs) and rising South African star Nduduzo Makhathini, Floating Points on Rhodes electric piano, renown bassist Esperanza Spalding (on two songs), respectable New York drummer Nasheet Waits and even freshly established flutist André 3000. Still there are vocalists/rapers who's participation is probably most influential.

Differently from all of Shabaka's previous music, "Perceive Its Beauty..." is a heavily meditative and quite relaxed work, fortunately it doesn't slip into esoteric sleepy listening. Arrangements are all tasteful and quite original, rhythm changes are presented too, each of the songs included has it own face.

Never a big jazz flute fan, I chose this album because of my interest in Shabaka's music. Still, this music really made my day brighter, more comfortable and harmonic, even under dark Nordic sky. I believe those appreciating flute in jazz will find much more to enjoy.

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