BY BILLY SUTER
SHABAKA and the Ancestors, a six-member musical collaboration between UK-based Shabaka Hutchings and the cream of contemporary jazz in South Africa, is lined up to entertain at Pinetown’s Rainbow Restaurant from 1pm on Sunday, February 5.
And headed for the same venue, at 23 Stanfield Lane, on February 12 , is another collaborative act the Mrubata/Hauser Project.
Presented by the Rainbow and Concerts SA, the February 5 gig will feature Shabaka Hutchings and Mthunzi Mvubu on saxophones, Tumi Mogorosi on drums, Ariel Zamonsky on double bass, Siya Mthembu on vocals and Gontse Makhene on percussion.
The band released an album, Wisdom of the Elders, in September last year, and since then has been receiving rave reviews.
Hutchings is a saxophonist, band leader and composer, part of London’s community of younger jazz musicians as well as the city’s thriving improvised music scene.
For Hutchings, “composition is a chronicle of the zeitgeist inhabited by a composer; an exposition of his or her search for meaning and the structuring of experiences in aid of recognising this meaning when it appears”. As part of the Caribbean diaspora, he sees his role as that of pushing the boundaries of what musical elements are considered to be Caribbean.
Constantly evaluating the nature of his relationship with musical material and tradition, he describes his attempts at composition as wrestling matches with questions of where and how the Caribbean can be encoded, and what happens when it is exposed to the western classical music cannon.
Hutchings was born in 1984 in London, moved to Barbados at the age of six, began studying classical clarinet aged nine and remained there until he was 16.
His primary project is the group Sons of Kemet, which won the 2013 MOBO Award for Jazz Act of the Year.
In June 2014, Hutchings was invited to join the Sun Ra Arkestra, performing with them and recording a session for BBC Radio 3. He has performed and recorded with Courtney Pine’s Jazz Warriors, Mulatu Astatke and the Heliocentrics, Polar Bear and Soweto Kinch.
Some of the many notable musicians with whom he has shared a stage include Jack DeJohnette, Charlie Haden and the Liberation Music Orchestra, Louis Moholo, Evan Parker, King Sunny Ade and Orlando Julius.
Through his work with South African musicians such as drummer Louis Moholo – who performed last October at the Rainbow – and trumpeter, Mandla Mlangeni, Hutchings has been visiting and gigging in South Africa since 2014. The Shabaka and the Ancestors project was a natural progression from these musical collaborations.
Key contributors to the album – Mlangeni and pianist Nduduzo Makhathini, due to their own projects – will not be joining the group on this mini-tour, or the extended European spring tour for which they are preparing.
Get your tickets (R120) at webticket.co.za. For more info mail Nicola@therainbow.co.za or phone 031 7029161.
This is the same ticket price and contact info for the February 12 concert, which will have McCoy Mrubata on tenor saxo and flute, Mark Hauser on alto sax, Paul Hanmer on piano,Thembinkosi Mavimbela on bass and Bernice Boikanyo on drums.
This collaboration came to life through a friendship which began in Switzerland when Mrubata and Hauser were introduced by their mutual friend Mark Roth.
The two sax players hit it off immediately and over the years embarked on a project which looked at ways to exchange the music of the two continents – Africa and Europe.