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Shabaka Hutchings: Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace

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Shabaka Hutchings: Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes ...

Since signing with with Impulse! in 2018, Shabaka Hutchings has become best known for his incendiary work on tenor saxophone with Sons of Kemet, The Comet Is Coming and Shabaka & the Ancestors . Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace marks the start of a gentler, more instrospective phase in his music making. The trigger came during the pandemic, when Hutchings fell in love with the Japanese shakuhachi flute. The quietly spoken instrument first edged itself into the jazz ecology with Hōzan Yamamoto's performances on Tony Scott's oxymoronically titled Music For Zen Meditation (Verve, 1964).

Hutchings hinted at the new trajectory with the EP Afrikan Culture (Impulse!, 2022), on which he was mainly heard on flute, and then gave explicit notice on New Year's Day 2023, when he announced that he would be taking a break from playing the saxophone publicly beginning in 2024. Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace is the first fruit of that decision. It is as different as could be from all Hutchings' releases prior to Afrikan Culture. It is also deeply beautiful. Check the YouTube below, where Hutchings does not so much dance about architecture as swim about music. "End Of Innocence" is the album's opening track, and it sets the tone for all that follows.

On the album, Hutchings plays clarinet, shakuhachi, European metal flute, bamboo flute, quena flute, svirel and, briefly, on "Breathing," saxophone. He is joined by some familiar colleagues: bassists Tom Herbert and Esperanza Spalding, pianist Jason Moran (that is him on the YouTube), drummer Nasheet Waits (ditto), harpists Brandee Younger and Charles Overton, pianist Nduduzo Makhathini and guitarist Dave Okumu. There are vocalists on half of the tracks, including ambient/trance stylist Laraaji. Full personnel and instrumentation details are below.

The music itself is as full of life as any of Hutchings' previous work, despite its inward-looking focus. The recording process played a part in this. The tracks were recorded in real-time in the Rudy Van Gelder studio with no headphones, no separation in the room, and without any other technological intermediary. After amassing hours of material, Hutchings set to work assembling the individual tracks in a process not unlike that employed by producer Teo Macero on Miles Davis' In A Silent Way (Columbia, 1969) and Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970). Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace does not sound like either of those albums, though there are passing resemblances to In A Silent Way. But while it may be new-school Hutchings, it is an old-school project. Hooray.

Track Listing

End Of Innocence; As The Planet And The Stars Collapse; Managing My Breath What Fear Had Become; The Wounded Need To Be Replenished; Body To Inhabit; I’ll Do Whatever You Want; Living; Breathing; Kiss Me Before I Forget; Song Of The Motherland.

Personnel

Additional Instrumentation

Shabaka Hutchings: clarinet (1 , 9), shakuhachi (2, 7), flute (3, 9-11), bamboo flute (4), quena flute (5), svirel (6, 8), saxophone (9); Jason Moran: piano (1, 10); Nasheet Waits: drums (1, 10); Carlos Nino: percussion (1, 5, 7, 10); Brandee Younger: harp (2, 6, 8); Charles Overton: harp (2-4, 6, 8, 11); Miguel Atwood-Ferguson: violin, viola,cello (2, 8); Moses Sumney: vocal (3); Saul Williams: vocal (4); Nduduzo Makhathini: piano (5); Surya Botofasini: synthesizer (5); Elucid: vocal (6); Esperanza Spalding: bass (6, 7); Laraaji: vocal (7); Andre 3000: drone flute (7); Floating Points: Rhodes Chroma (7); Tom Herbert: bass (7); Dave Okumu: guitar (7); Marcus Gilmore: drums (7); Eska: vocal (8); Rajna Swaminathan: mrudangam (9); Lianne La Havas: vocal (10); Anum Iyapo: vocal (11).

Album information

Title: Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Impulse! Records


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