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Shabaka and the Ancestors 'We Are Sent Here by History' makes BBC Music Magazine's 'The best jazz recordings released in 2020 so far'

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A list of the greatest jazz albums released so far this year, as chosen by the BBC Music Magazine critics includes; 'Shabaka and the Ancestors: We Are Sent Here by History' featuring Shabaka Hutchings (tenor sax), Mthunzi Mvubu (alto sax), Siyabonga Mthembu (voice), Ariel Zamonsky (bass), Gontse Makhene (percussion), Tumi Mogorosi (drums), Nduduzo Makhathini (piano), Thandi Ntuli (piano), Mandla Mlangeni (trumpet)

Reflecting his both informed and enquiring viewpoint, Shabaka Hutchings fronts several notable groups. This formidable unit, in which he works with a group of South African musicians, is now on its second album that also marks its Impulse! debut. Tagged occasionally offhandedly as anything from ‘Afrobeat' to ‘spiritual' and even ‘old-school' by listeners and pundits while described by its convener as an extension of the African griot tradition of storytelling and the preservation of history, the album blends poetry and chants with driving, drum-driven instrumental statements reminiscent of Steve Coleman, whose early influences Hutchings no doubt shares.

The narrative theme of this set of pieces is literally post- apocalyptic: the End of Days has already happened, so what happens next? It's at this point that we begin to address the extraordinary music itself, which is uncontainable in its energy, gravity and the sense of indefatigable potential that it can't help but generate; perhaps the album's ultimate message lies there, in which case ‘timely' doesn't quite cut it. Irresistible.

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