Album Review: We Are Sent Here by History by Shabaka & the Ancestors
Great, Based on 3 Critics
Pitchfork - 80 Based on rating 8.0/10
In West Africa, histories have been passed down through generations by griots, storytellers who collect the wisdom of the past in order to help shape our fates. Even after the advent of the written word, such storytellers were the safest manner of recording knowledge--scrolls could be lost, and libraries could burn, but oral histories were shared by the collective consciousness, written in our genes, able to survive individual tragedies to persist through time. In that sense, griots are more than just historians--they're the library.
To anyone that has been following jazz, and in particular British jazz, over the last few years, the name Shabaka Hutchings will not be new to you. He is, after all, perhaps the busiest working artist in the genre at present. His breakthrough release as part of Sons of Kemet came in 2018 on the glorious Your Queen is a Reptile, a record that remains the best in his back catalogue.
F ronting three different groups may seem like hubris, but the energy and vision of London-based saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings is not easily contained. This second album from his alliance with assorted South African musicians is both calmer and more ominous than his work with the Comet Is Coming and Sons of Kemet. There are no synth squalls and fractured beats - instead, Hutchings's tenor and clarinet are pitched against an acoustic ensemble driven by double bass and awash with Fender Rhodes piano, an approach that often echoes South Africa's distinct jazz lineage.