In the last hour, we began to explore the new London scene anchored by a broadly diverse set of players who share encouragement by the innovative educational group Tomorrow’s Warriors. We featured music by Nubya Garcia, one of three tenor stars who are breaking out of the scene and in this hour we’ll turn our attention to the other two, 37-year-old Shabaka Hutchings and 34-year-old Binker Golding – players, mentors, teachers and charismatic advocates for improvisational music.
Zara McFarlane with Binker Golding, Shabaka Hutchings and Sons of Kemet
Singer Zara McFarlane has been releasing significant work since her debut in 2011. Her second disc, 2014’s If You Knew Her, features tenor saxophonist Binker Golding and pianist Peter Edwards, who also came up through Tomorrow’s Warriors. In AllAboutJazz, Phil Barnes wrote of the variety of offerings on the disc, “The glue that holds the collection together throughout these different settings is McFarlane’s wonderfully expressive and soulful voice. Ultimately this is a record that you can listen to again and again, one that harks back to a world where soul took inspiration from jazz and not auto-tune.”
While Zara McFarlane’s family is from Jamaica, multi-reedist Shabaka Hutchings hails from Barbados. One of the senior players in the Tomorrow’s Warriors constellation, Hutchings is active in three distinct ensembles, Shabaka and the Ancestors, Sons of Kemet and The Comet is Coming. His contributions to projects by many of the players in this scene prompts comparison to Kamasi Washington’s influence on LA’s West Coast Get Down scene. Shabaka and the Ancestors is a project with South African players. Their 2020 disc, We Are Sent Here By History, is seen by Chris May on AllAboutJazz as “a fast-forward spin going on futuristic reinvention of the South African township jazz pioneered by artists such as Hugh Masekela, Chris McGregor and Dudu Pukwana in the mid 20th century. Ancient and modern, visceral and cerebral, epic yet intimate, it is jazz at its best.”
Sons of Kemet is a stripped down ensemble with the unusual instrumentation of Hutchings on tenor, 28-year-old tuba star Theon Cross, also of Tomorrow’s Warriors, and two drummers, Seb Rochford and Tom Skinner. Overtly political, their third disc Your Queen is a Reptile, pays tribute to their queens, legendary black women, as illustrated by tunes like My Queen is Angela Davis.
Woman in the Olive Groves. Zara McFarlane Quintet
(Binker Golding-ts, Peter Edwards-p, Max Luthert-b, Andy Chapman-d, Zara McFarlane-voc). From If You Knew Her. Brownswood Recordings. 2014.
Behold, The Deceiver. Shabaka & The Ancestors
(Mandla Mlangeni-tp, Shabaka Hutchings-reeds, Mthunzi Mvubu-as, Nduduzo Makhathini-p, Thandi Ntuli-p, Ariel Zamonsky-b, Tumi Mogorosi-d, Gontse Makhene-per). From We Are Sent Here by History. Impulse. 2020.
My Queen Is Angela Davis. Sons Of Kemet
(Theon Cross-tu, Shabaka Hutchings-sax, Seb Rochford-d, Tom Skinner-d). From Your Queen is a Reptile. Impulse. 2018.
Zara McFarlane with Binker Golding, Shabaka Hutchings and Sons of Kemet
Zara McFarlane’s 2018 disc, Arise! includes many players from Tomorrow’s Warriors and features, on the tune Peace Begins Within, contributions from Nathaniel Cross on trombone, Binker Golding on tenor, Peter Edwards on keys, Shirley Tetteh on guitar, Max Luther on bass and Moses Boyd on drums. Chris May writes that the disc, “explores the intersections between jazz and rhythms from Jamaica, in particular reggae, kumina and nyabinghi. But the music eschews simply sticking jazz vocals and instrumental solos on top of Caribbean rhythms. It goes much deeper than that. The result is spellbinding.”
Shabaka Hutchings was asked, along with other emerging jazz players from the US, UK and South Africa to contribute to the project A Day in the Life: Impressions of Pepper, a reinterpretation of the legendary Sgt. Peppers LP. His contribution from Shabaka and the Ancestors is a radical retelling of Good Morning, Good Morning.
Returning to Sons of Kemet, we’ll listen to the tune My Queen is Nanny of the Maroons.
Peace Begins Within. Zara McFarlane
(Nathaniel Cross-tb, Binker Golding-ts, Peter Edwards-org/melodica, Shirley Tetteh-g, Max Luthert-b, Moses Boyd-d/djembe, Peter Eckford-per, Zara McFarlane-voc). From Arise!. Brownswood Recordings. 2018.
Good Morning Good Morning. Shabaka & The Ancestors
(Shabaka Hutchings-reeds, Mthunzi Mvubu-as, Shane Cooper-b, Tumi Mogorosi-d, Gontse Makhene-per). From A Day In The Life: Impressions Of Pepper. Verve. 2019.
My Queen Is Nanny Of The Maroons. Sons Of Kemet
(Theon Cross-tu, Shabaka Hutchings-sax, Seb Rochford-d, Tom Skinner-d). From Your Queen Is A Reptile. Impulse. 2018.
Binker Golding, Moses Boyd and Shabaka Hutchings
Binker Golding and Moses Boyd maintain a performing and recording duo, simply called Binker and Moses. Bruce Lindsay wrote on AllAboutJazz, “Binker & Moses burst onto the UK scene in 2016, releasing the high-energy Dem Ones … and winning awards. The debut was full of inventiveness, musical twists and turns, and some seriously hard-blowing and hard-hitting playing from both men. [2017’s] Journey To The Mountain Of Forever retains that inventiveness and ability to surprise, but also exhibits a more varied musical approach… [The tune] Intoxication From The Jahvmonishi Leaves finds the pair getting down and funky, driving irresistibly forward with Boyd’s muscular drumming setting a rock-solid foundation for Golding’s flowing tenor lines.”
In 2018, signaling the arrival of a new crowd of London players, Shabaka Hutchings curated a collection with contributions from nine bands and 35 players, released as We Out Here. Chris May wrote, “This vivid snapshot of young London’s jazz scene… contains close to an hour of daring and uplifting music—from rebooted spiritual-jazz through abstract experimentation to Afrobeat-flavoured dancefloor urgency, a rich mix further enlivened by shots of grime, hip hop and funk. It was recorded over three days [in] August  under the light-touch supervision of its musical director, the saxophonist and clarinetist Shabaka Hutchings…. Though still in his early 30s, Hutchings is a kind of wise elder to the musicians featured on We Out Here, most of whom are in their mid 20s and a couple of whom are in their late teens.”
Intoxication from the Jahvmonishi Leaves. Binker and Moses
(Binker Golding-ts, Moses Boyd-d). Journey To The Mountain Of Forever. Gearbox Records. 2017.
Black Skin, Black Masks. Shabaka Hutchings Quintet
(George Crowley-cl, Shabaka Hutchings-bcl, Alexander Hawkins-p, Ruth Goller-b, Tom Skinner-d). From We Out Here. Brownswood Recordings. 2018.
In 2017, as the alumni of Tomorrow’s Warriors were gaining stature, the organization won the UK Parliamentary Jazz Award for Jazz Education, during a year when 14 alumni were shortlisted for awards. That year Shabaka Hutchings was Jazz Instrumentalist of the year and Nerija was the Best Newcomer.
Chris May wrote in 2018 that there “is a feast of remarkable jazz coming out of London … and the state of the music is healthier than it has been for around 30 years. It is an exciting time to be a jazz fan.” The contributions from these players from Tomorrow’s Warriors who keep pushing each other forward are a solid part of this “feast.” A word about Chris May, a UK-based contributor to AllAboutJazz, not only is he a trusted guide into the world of London jazz, his knowledge of jazz history anchors a consistently provocative set of articles urging listeners to branch out from familiar terrain in search of new discoveries in the vast discography of this important music. Thank you, Chris.
Hutchinson, Kate. (2018, April 8). The Guardian. The British jazz explosion: meet the musicians rewriting the rulebook. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/apr/08/british-jazz-invasion-moses-boyd-matthew-halsall-nubya-garcia
Barnes, Phil. (2014, March 22). AllAboutJazz. Zara McFarlane: If You Knew Her. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/if-you-knew-her-zara-mcfarlane-brownswood-recordings-review-by-phil-barnes.php.
May, Chris. (2020, February 27). AllAboutJazz. Shabaka & The Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/we-are-sent-here-by-history-shabaka-and-the-ancestors-impulse-records
Ackerman, Karl/. (2018, June 14). AllAboutJazz. Sons Of Kemet: Your Queen Is A Reptile. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/your-queen-is-a-reptile-sons-of-kemet-impulse-review-by-karl-ackermann.php
May, Chris. (2018, April 24. AllAboutJazz. Zara McFarlane: Arise! https://www.allaboutjazz.com/arise-zara-mcfarlane-brownswood-recordings-review-by-chris-may.php
Booth, Philip. (2019, February 15). JazzTimes. Various Artists: A Day in the Life: Impressions of Pepper (Impulse!). https://jazztimes.com/reviews/albums/various-artists-day-in-the-life-impressions-of-pepper/
Lindsay, Bruce. (2017, June 17). AllAboutJazz. Binker & Moses: Journey To The Mountain Of Forever. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/journey-to-the-mountain-of-forever-review-by-bruce-lindsay.php
May, Chris. (2018, February 24). AllAboutJazz. Various Artists: We Out Here. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/we-out-here-various-artists-brownswood-recordings-review-by-chris-may.php
For other programs in Jazz at 100 Today! visit: Jazz at 100 Today!