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 an 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.
The LeBoeuf Brothers, Remy and Pascal, are set to release a new album soon with the accompaniment of the JACK Quartet. imaginist, based on the early 20th Century Russian poetry movement, particularly in regard to the works of Franz Kafka, melds the innovative saxophone and piano playing twin brothers with the nine-piece chamber ensemble to create a melding of contemporary classical and jazz music. It's an artful approach that will make for an interesting release this coming October 14th on New Focus/Panoramic Recordings. Check out the video for the first single, "Pretenders" featuring saxophonist Ben Wendel, after the jump.
Scandinavians seem to have a real knack for aestheticism and minimalism whether in architecture, design, gastronomy or in this particular case music. It seems like the philosophy of “less is more” just runs through their veins while still capable of very controlled intensity. I hope this generalization isn’t deemed inaccurate or insulting as this wasn’t my intention. But I am familiar with the work of chef René Redzepi at Noma in Copenhagen as well as chef Magnus Nilsson at Fäviken in Åre and these are the people who came to mind when I stumbled upon the Finnish quintet Oddarrang.
Bassist and producer Shane Cooper is a presence in South Africa. His work on his own moves the rather strong jazz scene there and his work under the moniker Card on Spokes pushes the boundaries of the genre. This is very much apparent in his new EP out now, As We Surface.