Monday, June 25, 2018

Sons of Kemet – Your Queen is a Reptile

Sons of Kemet – Your Queen is a Reptile (Impulse!)

In recent years, Shabaka Hutchings has been one of the most exciting new saxophonists not named Kamasi Washington. Sons of Kemet is one of three projects led by Hutchings, including the psychedelic mind-melt called the Comet is Coming, and the South African jazz project Shabaka and the Ancestors. This is the U.K. player’s third album with the sax-tuba-drums trio Sons of Kemet, and their first for legendary jazz label Impulse. It’s the funkiest of the bunch, owing a large debt to New Orleans rhythms. Here, however, the Sons also lean heavily into reggae, with the help of toaster Congo Natty; one track is dedicated to Nanny of the Maroons, an 18th-century Jamaican hero.

The album’s title is a refutation of colonial history and a dedication to a series of female heroes in the African diaspora: Harriet Tubman, Angela Davis, Ghanaian queen Yaa Asantewaa and six others, including Hutchings’s personal hero, his grandmother. It’s as political as instrumental jazz can be, particularly after the Brexit vote. On the final track, dedicated to Labour MP Doreen Lawrence, Hutchings himself takes the mic: “Don’t want to take my country back / want to take my country forward / don’t want to hear that racist claptrap.” (April 20)

Stream: “My Queen is Harriet Tubman,” “My Queen is Anna Julia Cooper,” “My Queen is Doreen Lawrence”

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