20

Shabaka And The Ancestors: We Are Sent Here by History

Karl Ackermann By

Sign in to view read count
Even as Shabaka Hutchings moves the evolution of jazz forward, We Are Sent Here By History laments the present-day conditions of conflict, suffering, parity, and the struggle to survive. The saxophonist's breakthrough album came with his Sons of Kemet on Your Queen Is A Reptile (Impulse! Records, 2018). He also leads the jazz/electronica hybrid The Comet Is Coming. Shabaka and the Ancestors' debut, Wisdom of Elders (Brownswood Recordings, 2016) essentially featured the same group of South African musicians, but here with the addition of a second pianist, Thandi Ntuli.

We Are Sent Here By History is less episodic than Wisdom of Elders; an aqueous flow of strong emotion and spirituality. In updating the traditional role of the African griot, Hutchings takes a mystical, and cautionary, pilgrimage through failing society. Unfolding political and cultural fractures play out in the multi-faceted disorder of "They Who Must Die" and the frenetic insistence of "The Coming of the Strange Ones." South African Siyabonga Mthembu's spoken word opening to "You've Been Called" is unnerving and harrowing as he recites "We possess the power to pray our own devils back to hell, back to the burning," before invoking the album's title.

Hutchings also addresses gender issues on We Are Sent Here By History. Three of the final four tracks take aim at the lack of equality, absent role models, and misogyny, in part, related through Zulu readings and chants. "We Will Work (On Redefining Manhood)" and "Teach Me How To Be Vulnerable," ultimately conclude, optimistically, that much work needs to be done. The subject is weighty but the music itself is uplifting when removed from the context. Hutchings' playing has been compared to several sax greats from the latter half of the twentieth century. The associations are fitting but more important, Hutchings has a compelling story to tell, as would the ancient griot.

Track Listing

They Who Must Die; You’ve Been Called; Go My Heart, Go to Heaven; Behold, The Deceiver; Run, The Darkness Will Pass; The Coming of the Strange Ones; Beasts Too Spoke of Suffering; We Will Work (On Redefining Manhood); ‘Til the Freedom Comes Home; Finally, The Man Cried; Teach Me How to Be Vulnerable.

Personnel

Shabaka Hutchings: woodwinds; Mthunzi Mvubu: saxophone, alto; Ariel Zamonsky: bass, acoustic; Gontse Makhene: percussion; Tumi Mogorosi : drums; Siyabonga Mthembu: voice / vocals; Nduduzo Makhathini: piano; Thandi Ntuli: piano; Mandla Mlangeni: trumpet.

Album information

Title: We Are Sent Here by History | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Impulse! Records

Watch

Tags

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and through our retail affiliations you'll support us in the process.


MUSICSTACK

Rare vinyl LPs and CDs from over 1,000 independent sellers

AMAZON

CDs, Vinyl, Blu-Ray DVDS, Prime membership, Alexa, SONOS and more

HD TRACKS

Specializing in high resolution and CD-quality downloads

CD UNIVERSE

Specializing in music, movies and video games

REVERB

Marketplace for new, used, and vintage instruments and gear

More

Read Silver Dollar
Silver Dollar
Jason Stein
Read Four Questions
Four Questions
Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra