Friday 5 July 2019
London jazz quartet salute women of colour and attack the monarchy

Shabaka Hutchings is said to be the first UK jazz name on global lips. He’s sort of an equivalent to the Kendrick Lamar-endorsed Kamasi Washington in the US.

The Afro-Caribbean rooted, MOBO-winning Sons of Kemet are just one of three current Hutchings bands (another is the electro space-jazz outfit The Comet Is Coming who... tadaa... also plays Roskilde Festival 2019!).

Sons of Kemet is an unconventional quartet made of up Hutchings’ tenor sax, two drummers and a tuba. They are released on John Coltrane’s old US label, Impulse!, and their setup fits with the historic label's revolutionary tradition forged by John and Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders etc.

In 2018, Sons of Kemet released their third album, Your Queen Is a Reptile to outstanding reviews (in fact, it ended on the top spot in The Wire’s end of year list). And you certainly understand why! The band charges through at a relentless pace, playfully referencing Illuminati conspiracy theories surrounding the British monarchy and positing their own selection of alternative queens in the process (just have a look at the song titles on the record sleeve). With Your Queen is a Reptile, Sons of Kemet deliver a sensory assault that has earned the band a Mercury Prize nomination and a reputation for coruscating, politicised live performances. 

Lots of young crowds dance to these sounds. Does this mean that jazz is reviving itself – or perhaps rather finding rhythm-friendly forms for younger generations indifferent to genre? You know, like the magnificent Roskilde people? Sons of Kemet keep at such movement’s head. And if you stay open-minded they will blow your mind.