We Are Sent Here By History was released in 2020 but it only recently landed in Barn. And I thank my lucky stars.
Free jazz, cosmic jazz, whateveryouwannacallit, We Are Sent Here By History descends from the likes of Coltrane, Sun Ra, and Shabaka Hutching’s afro-caribean and his sextets’ South African roots. The story, essentially a musical message sent back in time with tales of the apocalypse, was co-written with poet Siyabonga Mthembu and is told through vocals sung in Zulu, Xhosa, and English, Hutching’s tenor and clarinet, foundational double bass, Fender Rhodes, and horns.
While the message is basically bleak, the music sings out with beauty and mind-bending interplay, with musician-to-musician dialog weaving in and out like an Escher staircase. The hour-long story passes in an instant, making repeated plays mandatory.
Shabaka and the Ancestors We Are Sent Here By History is available from Shabaka Hutchings (and elsewhere).