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Sons of Kemet — Burn (2013)

 Sons of Kemet — Burn (2013)

Sons of Kemet — Burn
→   A super-group of sorts led by clarinetist, saxophonist and composer Shabaka Hutchings with Oren Marshall on tuba and both Tom Skinner and Seb Rochford on drums, Sons Of Kemet offer a unique take on jazz, Caribbean folk music and African Diasporan history.
Location: London ~ Barbados ~ Birmingham ~ London, England
Album release: September 9th, 2013
Record Label: Naim Jazz Records
Duration:     49:43
01 All Will Surely Burn     6:19
02 The Godfather     5:17
03 Inner Babylon     5:20
04 The Book of Disquiet     5:34
05 Going Home     3:53
06 Adonia’s Lullaby     4:11
07 Song for Galeano     4:25
08 Beware     3:37
09 The Itis     2:29
10 Rivers of Babylon     8:38
♠   One of the most talked about bands on London’s leftfield jazz scene since their formation two years ago, Sons of Kemet release their debut album, Burn, on the Naim Jazz label on 9 September.
♠   Led by saxophonist/clarinettist Shabaka Hutchings, with tuba virtuoso Oren Marshall and drummers Tom Skinner and Seb Rochford — plus guest guitarist Dave Okumu (of electro-rock trio The Invisible) also on the sessions — Sons of Kemet whip up a bewitching brew of African, Arabic and Caribbean sounds laced with dub reggae in the vein of cult Jamaican drummer Count Ossie and his band Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, via the transcendental sax flights of Pharoah Sanders. Conceptually the twin-drummer set-up is inspired by polyrhythmic west African drumming, creating conversational percussive layers to hypnotic effect, which hooked to Marshall’s depth-charge tuba bass lines and heady live effects and Hutchings’ scything melodic lines on top, creates a wall of head-spinning sounds. Recorded with all bandmembers in the same room the intensely meshed recording also embraces electronics and club-style beats simultaneously referencing deep diasporic African music and a highly danceable street-level energy on one of the most exciting UK albums of the year so far.
Label: http://www.naimlabel.com/
♠   In the spring of 2011, patrons of Charlie Wright's in East London saw a performance that stopped them in their tracks. It was the unveiling of a group with a unique take on jazz, Caribbean folk music and African Diasporan history. The band was Sons of Kemet, a super-group of sorts led by clarinetist, saxophonist and composer Shabaka Hutchings, featuring Oren Marshall on tuba and both Tom Skinner and Seb Rochford on drums. The combination of these mighty creative forces yields music that is powerful, lyrical and, above all, fiercely original.
♠   In September 2013 the band will release its hotly anticipated debut album Burn having undergone mercurial development by way of numerous gigs, the highlights of which include a session for BBC Radio 3's Jazz On 3, a sensational debut at this year's Cheltenham Jazz Festival and a collaboration with the BBC Concert Orchestra at the Queen Elizabeth Hall as part of the 2012 London Jazz Festival.
♠   The memory of that first performance at Charlie Wright's is still clear in Hutchings' mind, as is the reason why he opted for the relatively unusual twin percussion team that that gives Sons of Kemet their compelling and infectious sound. Hutchings had extensive experience working with each drummer in different settings — Skinner in the acclaimed trio Zed-U [alongside bassist Neil Charles] and Rochford in Mercury Music Prize nominees Polar Bear, where Hutchings frequently depped for saxophonist Pete Wareham. Skinner and Rochford's visceral exchange of rhythmic ideas is an unforgettable, highly danceable experience. Throw into this one of the great wild cards of contemporary British music, Oren Marshall on tuba, and you have a wonderfully unorthodox configuration.
♠   Although born in London, 29 year-old, Hutchings spent most of his childhood in Barbados, where he studied classical clarinet and played in various calypso and reggae bands before moving to Birmingham in 1999. Upon his return to England, he attended the renowned Guildhall School Of Music, joined the Tomorrow's Warriors collective and went on to work with artists such as Jerry Dammers, The Heliocentrics and Courtney Pine. Able to contribute as much to swing as free improvised settings, Hutchings was soon recognized as an exciting new personality in British jazz, and his career received yet another boost when he was named BBC Radio 3's New Generation Jazz Artist for 2010 (a two-year tenure). The consensus was that this was a musician with strong ideas as well as ‘chops' and Sons Of Kemet bears this out in no uncertain terms.
Beyond the impressive credentials of the band members, it is the raison d'etre of the group that explains why it has made a sizeable impact in its short life span. There is a meaningful cultural slant to the whole project. "I thought none of the music I'm playing had a Caribbean accent, so I wanted to have that influence," Hutchings says. "I wanted it to be that deeper thing that links into the African Diaspora but isn't clichéd, where you hear it and think this is that nice happy music from the islands."
♠   So it was back to his childhood and to Barbados that Hutchings turned. Seeking guidance from Barbadian ethnomusicologists specializing in early Caribbean music, he was soon furnished with numerous recordings that he studied in depth. Before long, the links between the music of New Orleans and West Africa became clear and the work of two visionary Jamaican artists in particular percolated into Hutchings' mind: Count Ossie and Cedric ‘Im' Brooks, two musicians who would become major influences on the band.
♠   The reprise of The Rivers Of Babylon, which Hutchings describes as a ‘standard' within the Afro-Caribbean tradition and a staple of Rastafarian nyabinghi drumming music, is arguably the clearest indication of the far-reaching history that frames Son Of Kemet. Yet the themes and sources of inspiration for other songs also reveal how far and wide Hutchings has cast his conceptual net. Inner Babylon addresses the issue of the cultural hegemony of America; The Godfather pays tribute to the legendary Ethiopian musician Mulatu Atsatke, with whom Hutchings and Tom Skinner have played with over the last few years; All Will Surely Burn is a reflection on the pressing subject of global warming while Hutchings' interest in literature is flagged up by two pieces that evoke writers who have inspired him: Song For Galeano is for Uruguayan historian Eduardo Galeano and The Book Of Disquiet is for the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa.
♠   While the breadth of these references make it clear that Hutchings is very much engaged with the world around him in the widest possible sense, he has made an entirely personal statement through the name that he chose for the group. Kemet is one of the first recognized names for ancient Egypt and its last Nubian king was called Shabaka. "He wrote all of the ideological principles of the time in Egypt — they
were the Kemetic principles," says Shabaka of his namesake, "these things have influenced Greek philosophy and a lot of western thinking." One of the things in Kemetic ideology that particularly interested him was the principle of a universal consciousness "that really struck a chord with what I was trying to do musically with the people I was playing with."
♠   Exceptionally assured for a debut album, Burn surely has to become one of the standout releases for 2013. It's a curiously addictive album that manages to appeal to both heart and mind and there is little to compare it with. Instead it feels like that rare thing, an exciting new sound that somehow worms its way into your brain and won't let go.
Shabaka Hutchings is a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist 2010-2012.
♠   Shabaka Hutchings was born in 1984 in London. He moved to Barbados at the age of six, began studying classical clarinet aged nine and remained until sixteen, when he moved back to the UK to complete his A-levels in Birmingham. There he was introduced to Soweto Kinch who was running a weekly jam session where, for the first time, Shabaka was introduced to jazz. Soweto introduced him to another jazz luminary — Courtney Pine — who taughts Shabaka improvisation. During this time in Birmingham Shabaka was a member of the Birmingham Schools Symphony Orchestra, Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra and the Walsall Jazz Orchestra. In these bands he was able to tour in Holland and Germany and perform twice in the Monteux Jazz Festival.
♠   After completing A-levels, Shabaka moved to London to study clarinet at the Guildhall School of Music under Joy Farrall, a member of the Britten Sinfonia, as well as second study lessons with Tim Garland and Jean Toussaint. In this period, Shabaka became affiliated with the Dune Records Group and became a member of the Tomorrow’s Warriors organisation. He toured with Gary Crosby’s Nu-Troop and Abram Wilson’s sextet, Jazz Jamacia. Shabaka soon started composing and formed his own group Splay to perform his works. This group played at many venues around London and the Cheltenham Jazz Festival.
♠   After graduating from Guildhall, Shabaka put together the trio zed-u which recorded an album 'Night-Time on the Middle Passage' to acclaim. the group went on to perform in the London Jazz Festival as well as various top London jazz venues including Ronnie Scotts and Pizza Express, in this setting Shabaka was set to explore many cross genre musical ideas and merge seemingly disparate musical elements including free improvisation, dub, minimalism among others.
♠   In late 2007 shabaka was asked to join Courtney Pine’s reformation of the seminal large ensemble The Jazz Warriors. He featured on a live recording made in the Barbican and subsequently toured with the group. He is featured on Pine's latest album Europa as a guest soloist. Since then, Shabaka has regularly performed with the popular ‘post-jazz’ group Polar Bear, and has recently joined Jyager Bear (the groups latest manifestation) which features an M.C. with the musicians. In 2008 Shabaka joined The Heliocentrics and recorded an album with them along with Ethiopian percussionist Mulatu. Shabaka has since been on two European tours with the outfit and has appeared on their latest album. He has also recorded and toured with Mercury nominated artist, Soweto Kinch.
♠   Shabaka has shared stage with the likes of Jack De Johnette at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Charlie Haden's Liberation Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, Red Snapper in a tour of Russia and Jerry Dammers' Spatial A.K.A. Orchestra at the Barbican. He is also involved with the thriving community of younger jazz musicians in london and has recorded with and performed in ensembles led by Kit Downes, Jay Phelps, Arun Ghosh, Dan Nicholls and Tom Challenger, to name a few.
♠   Shabaka has also become an integral part of the free music scene in London. He is a member of the London Improvisers Orchestra, performing alongside such figures as Evan Parker and Steve Beresford. He was invited in 2009 to take part in a three day free music festival at the Vortex (Mopomoso) where he improvised with musicians from around Europe, Japan and Taiwan and formed relationships with esteemed british figures Lol Coxhill and John Butcher. He has also gigged with free figures such as Louis Moholo, John Edwards, Roger Turner and Pat Thomas. He has founded a new improvising trio with Tony Marsh (drums) and Guillaume Viltard (double bass) which is set to record on Evan Parker's label. in 2011 he ws selected as one of fourteen British musicians to perform in Berlin as part of the Just Not Cricket festival which was filmed for a documentary highlighting four generations of British free improvisation.
♠   In 2010 Shabaka was named a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist which has allowed him to undertake various projects for broadcast on Radio 3. These include performances with Julian Joseph, the BBC Big Band and Copland's Clarinet concerto with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in the Millennium Centre, Cardiff.
♠   Shabaka's latest project is the Sons of Kemet which includes Seb Rochford and Tom Skinner on drums with Oren Marshall on tuba. This group explores Shabaka's Caribbean music and groove sensibilities and is described by John Fordham (the Guardian) as 'a dazzlingly adventurous and very accessible groove-band….almost certain to dominate the best of 2012 lists at the end of the year'. The group was asked to record an exclusive set for Jazz on 3 which was featured in 2011 in an hour long programme showcasing the band. the group is recording its debut album in 2012.
♠   Since performing as a member of the Loose Tubes Oren has worked extensively crossing between classical - jazz - improvised- world music, collaborating with the likes of Derek Bailey, Keith Tippet, the Pan - African Orchestra and the London Philharmonic. ♠   Twice nominated for the BBC Innovation in Jazz Award Oren’s latest composition. An Introduction to the Story of Spedy Sponda2 premiered on BBC Radio 3 in 2002.
Oren took up the tuba at the age of fourteen after several years of studying the oboe and recorder. By the time he was twenty he had played with every major orchestra in London as well as with the Bolshoi Soloists, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Canadian Ballet.
♠   During the 1980’s Oren played regularly with Loose Tubes, London Brass, the Jazz Warriors, Microgroove and Mervyn Africa and has worked closely with Claudio Abbado, Derek Bailey, Django Bates, Randy Brecker, Mike Gibbs, Rolf Harris, Julian Joseph, Moondog, Butch Morris, Michael Nyman, Nigel Osbourne, David Shea, John Taylor, Keith Tippet, Steve Noble, Mark Anthony Turnage, Kenny Wheeler annd James Wood to name a few.
♠   Oren has also travelled extensively, especially in Africa, collaborating with the Pan African Orchestra, the Ghana Dance Ensemble, Kakatsitsi, Rasha, Abdelkadur Saadoun as well as with Chandru from India and Afro-Shock from Italy.
TOM SKINNER: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/tom-skinner-mn0003129096
♠   Sebastian "Seb" Rochford is a British drummer and bandleader who spans many musical genres. Rochford leads British band, Polar Bear.
♠   He comes from Aberdeen and has a large family of 2 brothers and 7 sisters. His father, Gerard Rochford, is an accomplished poet in the north east of Scotland.
Awards: Seb won the BBC Jazz Award for best newcomer in 2004, and has been nominated as best musician in 2006. He has also been nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2005 and 2007. Seb also plays drums on Adele's Mercury Nominated Album 19. © Photo credit: Andy Newcombe
♠   b. 12 October 1976, Vienna, Austria. The son of exiled Kenyan peace campaigner Professor Washington Okumu, David and his family relocated to the UK when he was 10 years old. He had begun taking an interest in music, first wanting to play trumpet but instead took up the guitar. Although he did not think he could play jazz, he attended a school where John Parricelli was a visiting teacher and began moving into the genre. He met drummer Tom Skinner and bass player Tom Herbert, both of whom were to become close musical companions and collaborators of the future. After studying French and politics at Edinburgh University, Okumu returned to London where he joined Tomorrow’s Warriors. He had been composing music and was encouraged to perform his ‘Thieves Without Loot’ at the London Jazz Festival. For this date, Okumu was joined by Skinner and Herbert as well as keyboard player Nick Ramm and saxophonist Jason Yarde. He later met and played with Scandinavian contemporary jazz players drummer Benita Haastrup and bass player Anders Jormin.
♠   Okumu has been deeply involved with various bands, sometimes as leader or co-leader; among them are F-IRE Collective, Jade Fox, a band influenced by Miles Davis’ fusion period, and Foot Fooler, a 12-piece band conceived by Skinner and also inspired by aspects of Davis’ work. Among others with whom Okumu has performed are Colin Towns’ Mask Orchestra, John Taylor, Jean Toussaint, and singers Eska Mtungwazi, Terri Walker and Norma Winstone. He has also worked with Taylor and Winstone’s son, drummer Leo Taylor. An adventurous and forward-thinking musician, during the early 00s Okumu was staking a claim to becoming one of the more promising of the new generation of jazz musicians.

Sons of Kemet — Burn (2013)



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