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Shabaka & The Ancestors - We Are Sent Here By History is a reflection of immense changes in society / JAZZ VIEWS

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Shabaka Hutchings is known to many as a key player in The Comet is Coming and Sons of Kemet and his strength of delivery and presence in a line up is formidable. Shabaka & The Ancestors' first album ‘Wisdom of Elders' released on the Brownswood label unleashed a powerful force on the music world and showed an enlightened and aware musician willing to place his beliefs and tenets before the audience as well as his music. ‘We Are Sent Here By History' is released on Impulse and is a reflection of immense changes in society – and more to come. Shabaka has referred to the album as " meditation on the fact of our coming extinction as a species. It is a reflection from the ruins, from the burning."

Shabaka & The Ancestors came about after Shabaka visited Johannesburg to play with trumpeter/bandleader Mandla Mlangeni. Mandla connected Shabaka with a group of South African jazz musicians that Hutchings admired. After several sessions, their first album ‘Wisdom of Elders' was made. This follow-up record reunites the group, who recorded in Johannesburg and Cape Town. There is about this album a sense of urgency, an unrelenting darker energy and it is presented as a major social commentary in the context of ancient traditions. Shabaka explains this is, "what happens after that point when life as we know it can't continue."

'We Are Sent Here By History' mixes African and Afro-Caribbean traditions and takes an interesting concept - that of the griot. A griot is the holder of ancient aural traditions and the keeper of them. Therefore, an important aspect is the accompanying text to this album provided by South African performance artist Siyabonga Mthembu who chants and sings on this record and composed the lyrics. Shabaka chose song titles based on the lyrics and composed poems around each title.

Hutchings says, "'We Are Sent Here by History' is a meditation on the fact of our coming extinction as a species. It is a reflection from the ruins, from the burning; a questioning of the steps to be taken in preparation for our transition individually and societally if the end is to be seen as anything but a tragic defeat. For those lives lost and cultures dismantled by centuries of western expansionism, capitalist thought and white supremist structural hegemony the end days have long been heralded as present with this world experienced as an embodiment of a living purgatory." With that in mind, press play.

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