Shabaka & the Ancestors is a modern avant-jazz octet led by British/Barbadian tenor saxophonist and composer Shabaka Hutchings.
Its remaining members are South African jazzmen Mthunzi Mvubu (alto sax); Mandla Mlangeni (trumpet); Siyabonga Mthembu (vocals); Nduduzo Makhathini (Rhodes, piano); Ariel Zamonsky (bass); Gontse Makhene (percussion), and Tumi Mogorosi (drums).
Hutchings had made several trips to South Africa between 2012 and 2014, immersing himself in the wide variety of the country's rich musical heritage. In early 2015, he assembled this group to "present the musical language that I normally associate with my U.K. bands in the context of Shabaka & the Ancestors' music and musical sensibilities." He composed a psalm in nine parts and recorded it. The finished album, Wisdom of Elders, was issued on Gilles Peterson's Brownswood label in September 2016. After Hutchings spent the next several years touring and recording with his own quartet and with the Comet Is Coming, he reconvened the Ancestors in South Africa. They spent two years periodically working between studios in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The finished effort, entitled We Are Sent Here by History, is a Pan-African outing that conjugated African and Afro-Caribbean traditions. Its concept was to explore the role of the griot in the occidental African culture via an international blend of spiritual jazz. Issued by Impulse!, the set appeared in mid-March of 2020. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi