Shabaka and the Ancestors, We Are Sent Here By History, Impulse!

'Music is the seed from which new worlds must grow,' from a poem by Shabaka Hutchings. It is impossible to diminish the impact We Are Sent Here By History creates. In its folkloric grandeur and ambitions that make it leap far beyond a more …

Published: 27 Mar 2020. Updated: 22 months.

'Music is the seed from which new worlds must grow,' from a poem by Shabaka Hutchings.

It is impossible to diminish the impact We Are Sent Here By History creates.

In its folkloric grandeur and ambitions that make it leap far beyond a more restricted sense of abum there is a collision of poetry, music and however implicit dance. Folkloric in one sense, a rewriting of priorities in terms of society and attitudes to gender and more in another there is a mystical sense of revelation drawn from Xhosa traditions, Rastafarianism and more in the lyrics and inspirations and above all a sense of otherworldliness.

In all the above this actually contributes to a larger more convincing world view than you get in the more basic bounce and euphoric beat of Shabaka's other bands Sons of Kemet and The Comet Is Coming.

By the way Shabaka plays just as beautifully as ever and there are waves of solos breaking through that indicate once again what a world class saxophonist he is and how his stature grows with every record. His tenderness is more evident here than ever.

The beautiful 'Go My Heart, Go To Heaven' is one exemplary track on a griot themed album conception and “meditation on the fact of our coming extinction as a species.'' How clarivoyant is that in the current climate at a time of global existential crisis?

Shabaka & The Ancestors came together in 2016 first spawned through a Hutchings collaboration with trumpeter and bandleader Mandla Mlangeni who helped him put the band together resulting in an impressive but less all encompassing album Wisdom of Elders.

Made in Johannesburg and Cape Town during 2019. With Shabaka are Mthunzi Mvubu, alto sax; Siyabonga Mthembu, vocals; Ariel Zamonsky, double bass; Gontse Makhene, percussion; Tumi Mogorosi, drums plus Nduduzo Makhathini (Fender Rhodes), Thandi Ntuli (piano), Mandla Mlangeni (trumpet) on selected tracks. A major achievement by all concerned.

Stephen Graham

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