Concert Review: Sons of Kemet (UK)

Sons of Kemet (UK) Performing Tonight in Brooklyn (NY)!!!

Date:  July 14, 2019
Venu: Spiegeltent Palais De Variete, George Square, Edinburgh, Scotland

Review by Fiona MacTaggart

Sons Of KemetSons of Kemet are one of the several bands esteemed British saxman Shabaka Hutchings leads and following this band securing the much sought-after 2018 Mercury Prize for their album Your Queen is A Reptile, in which each tune is named in honor of a female civil rights hero, Harriet Tubman for example, they have been in even more demand. 

Thus the politics and confidence of this quartet cannot be faulted, nor can the good sense of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival (EJBF19) programmers who knew this popular band would draw in the young, awakening-to-jazz and to civil rights, crowd. As to whether this is actually jazz – who cares! Jazz is a broad church which welcomes most comers, with tonight’s concert being a brash, at times almost aggressive display of Hutchings’ personal, highly-informed politics and widespread musical tastes.

From the start Hutchings was to the fore, sharing mostly moderate tempo, dance-along, perhaps slightly samey melodies, from Your Queen Is A Reptile. A little too infrequently for this reviewer he showed his impressive, fast and furious tenor sax chops.

Other highlights included David Attenborough-style warring walruses’ duets between Hutchings and Theon Cross’ tuba. More of this, please!

Meanwhile the two drummers, Tom Skinner and the impressively – coiffed Eddie Hick had the notoriously reserved Edinburgh audience jumping, with their loud and irresistible grooves.

The penultimate tune ended with minimalist drums and whispered sax, a relief after the preceding uniform calling to arms, suggesting that as Sons of Kemet further matures, this band (and its target audience) could evolve a taste for a more highly varied emotional palette. Nevertheless, in the present political climate in both the US and the UK, one feels their current ire translated through their music, is timely.

Sons of Kemet have two US dates: the first today 6 August 2019 at Industry City, Brooklyn, New York (doors open 7pm); then 8 August 2019 at Echoplex, Los Angeles, California (doors open 8pm).