sHabaka Hutchings is the spokesperson for British “No Jazz”. With his Caribbean roots and love for African music, he has developed into one of the most exciting saxophone players of our time. Sons Of Kemet’s new album “Black to the Future”, which has caused quite a stir over the years with its unusual two-drum and tuba-drum beat section, is now releasing on the “Impulse!” Historical. We reached Hutchings by phone in London.
Mr. Hutchings, I’d like to talk about the particular “black aesthetic” that you pursue on your new album. In an accompanying statement, you connect your concept of “blackness” to questions of humanity, nature, and the spiritual realm. Why is blackness a philosophical category for you?
By black I mean a certain way of seeing the world by remembering traditional African practices, and ancient existential concepts. One must be aware of the relationship between the human world and the natural and spiritual world, which was once fused together into one cyclical overarching concept.
There is a center piece on your album called “To Forget the Source”. What source are you referring to?
First and foremost is Africa, of course. One must not forget that Africa was the cradle of humanity. We have to remember this when we ask ourselves: “Who are we actually?” What was the cosmology that people had to put themselves in at that time? What is the role of saints in Africa? If one realizes how the ancients understood one’s relationship to nature and the spiritual world, one also learns something about our present.
In terms of music, you can also rely on the sources of John Coltrane, Albert Ayler or Faroe Sanders, your ancestors on “Impulse!” Do you feel like you are kind of an outlet in this regard?
Maybe you could say that. When I started listening to their music, I was mainly inspired by their playing energy. This energy, special inner strength made it clear to me that there is something in music – and just there – that has no equivalent in language. That is why I definitely have a close relationship with these musicians.
Last October I published an article entitled “The Spiritual Power of Sanders Pharaoh.” At the end of the text, you ask yourself: “How can we black people be victorious over the system of white supremacy, a system that even affects our understanding of what is” real “? Sanders has a simple and coherent answer: with “black loneliness” – one of his album titles.
Beyond this plausible slogan, I was convinced of his own concept of “sound”. I literally studied sanders clay formation. What are the meanings in his voice? Is his shouting at the saxophone only symbolic or is it their own language? However, if I try to pronounce this sound now, I will reduce it. You cannot put the voice into words, including mine, you have to feel it. Slowly the view seems to be gaining ground that you don’t have to explain this specific power of musical sound in a complicated way, but simply experiment with it. You have to expose yourself to it, indulge it. I learned this from Pharaoh Sanders.