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We Are Sent Here By History

Saxophonist and composer Shabaka Hutchings evidently likes to keep himself busy as the leader of The Comet is Coming, and, until very recently, of Sons Of Kemet; not to mention his work as a soloist and sideman. Out of the music of his I've heard, my favourite thus far is this album We Are Sent Here By History by Shabaka And The Ancestors, the second record from the band who, apart from Hutchings himself, are based in South Africa. I acquired it last year, on CD.

The two obvious focal points of the music are Huthchings' lead tenor sax and clarinet, and poet Siyabonga Mthembu's compelling chants and recitations, delivered in English, Zulu and Xhosa. Also immediately impressive is Ariel Zamonsky’s work on the double bass, but the whole band blends together beautifully. The disc gets off to a powerful start with the ten-minute opener 'They Who Must Die'.

The musicians are more than capable of delicate virtuosity, but meanwhile not above playing with simpler blunt force, as on 'Beasts Too Spoke Of Suffering'. It's a record over an hour long with a great many highlights and hardly any longueurs. There seems little point in singling out individual tracks for praise when the album as a whole rings like a well-made bell.

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