Shabaka Hutchings continues to establish himself as one of the key leaders of London's current jazz renaissance, and he's been highly prolific across various projects. The past couple years have seen the releases of excellent albums by his bands Sons of Kemet and The Comet Is Coming, and this year he released the second Shabaka and the Ancestors album, We Are Sent Here by History, which follows the Ancestors' 2016 debut Wisdom of Elders. Shabaka 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.

Shabaka is from London, but the rest of the Ancestors and guest vocalist Siyabonga Mthembu of The Brother Moves On (who sings on about half of We Are Sent Here by History in Zulu, Xhosa, and English) are from South African city Johannesburg, and Shabaka told The New York Times that he wanted the album to capture some of the "restless energy" of Johannesburg's underground arts scene. "We’re talking about imaginative structures, we’re talking about how we perceive things and how we process information that’s given to us — how we see ourselves in the sense of how we relate to history," he says. "Hopefully it’s just a starting point to get people thinking about their own relationship to these things."

As you'd probably expect from any Shabaka-related group, We Are Sent Here by History is an intense, immersive album. As Shabaka intended, a lot of it mirrors the hustle and bustle of a restless city, but it can be calming and beautiful at times too. It's a great record, and one of the finest new jazz albums in a year that has had no lack of great jazz albums. If you haven't heard it yet, you can stream it and watch the video for "Go My Heart, Go To Heaven" below.

Meanwhile, Shabaka has been making the best of the mass quarantine by doing Instagram livestreams, and he recently did a 42-minute solo session for Boiler Room from home. "I like seeing my peers share videos of them working on stuff," he told Crack. "Sometimes I’ll feel lethargic and not inspired to play at all and I might watch a video by someone which makes me pick up my horn and get to work. I hope that my videos give this feeling to someone too." He also adds, to NPR, "We have to make the best of the situation, or the situation will just be tragic."

Watch that Boiler Room session below too.


In related news, the other two members of The Comet Is Coming have a new EP under the name Soccer96 coming June 26 via Moshi Moshi.