Tag Archives: Shabaka and the Ancestors

The Inventive Traditions of South African Jazz

South African Jazz

Illustration by Lynnie Zulu.

Even from its beginnings in the 1950s and ‘60s, South African jazz was synonymous with resistance. Inspired both by African-American performers and by indigenous music, South African jazz celebrated the creativity and genius of black performers worldwide, even as many performances included integrated bands. Continue reading

The Best Albums of 2016: #20 – 1

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Collage by Valentina Montagna.

If there’s one thing we learned since we launched Bandcamp Daily this past June, it’s that the world of Bandcamp is enormous—encompassing everything from emo in China to cumbia punk in Tucson, Arizona to just about everything in between. So narrowing our Best Albums of the Year down to 100 choices was a daunting task. Here, at last, are our Top 20 Albums of 2016.

More “Best of 2016”:
The Best Albums of 2016: #100 – 81
The Best Albums of 2016: #80 – 61
The Best Albums of 2016: #60 – 41
The Best Albums of 2016: #40 – 21

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Best of Bandcamp Jazz: September 2016

Best of Bandcamp Jazz - September - artwork

Nothing in this list is straight-ahead. Of the 18 recommended September releases, not one mirrors the classic jazz sound of the 1960s, but they are part of a lineage. The deep lines of blues and bop are noticeable in these works, their motions graceful and improvised. These records follow their own creative paths, holding true to the genre’s roots.

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On “Wisdom of Elders,” Shabaka Channels the Spirit of South African Jazz

Shabaka Hutchings
Shabaka Hutchings.

As a young boy growing up in Barbados, Shabaka Hutchings wasn’t immediately drawn to music. There was no bolt of lightning, no key moment that made him want to pick up an instrument. Instead, bored in a music class one day, a teacher asked him if he wanted to play, and handed him a clarinet. “There wasn’t really any choice,” Hutchings recalls. “I wanted to play the saxophone, but they were like, ‘We’ve got a lot of clarinets, so that’s what you’re gonna play.’”

Hutchings lived in Barbados until he was 16, playing clarinet in reggae bands, and creating other improvised forms of music. In Barbados, music wasn’t classified by genre: “If you played an instrument, you just played that instrument. There wasn’t any kind of distinction about what, specifically, you played.” Hutchings started developing an interest in jazz when he moved to Birmingham, England as a teenager. There, he met and studied under legendary saxophonist Courtney Pine. “It went from a point of me knowing nothing about jazz, to practicing with an established jazz musician and checking out the albums he was checking out, and seeing what the music actually is.”

Over the years, Hutchings has performed and recorded with jazz luminaries—the Sun Ra Arkestra, Mulatu Astatke, and the Heliocentrics, among many others. He recorded his new album, Wisdom of Elders, in Johannesburg, South Africa, with a crew of celebrated local composers. We spoke with Hutchings about the LP, the difference between the South African and London jazz scenes, and how current events influence his art.

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