Tradition shapes your work. For saxophonist and bandleader Shabaka Hutchings, that’s something he’s long understood. After years spent in the orbit of London’s jazz circuit, he examines and reimagines his influences with a dexterity that’s unique.
"When we study the music, the lives, the words of our master musicians we obtain a glimpse of that artist's essential energy source. This is the core vitality of the individual which leads them to utilise the musical specifics of their chosen genre in a way that mirrors their inner source of power. This is an intuited wisdom that's handed to us from the legacies of our elders.
Going beyond the jazz greats Hutchings cites, influences are drawn from plenty of other sources: Caribbean calypso, central African song structures and Southern African Nguni music all play a part. Bringing together those ideas with the contributions of his bandmates is, he explains, crucial to what he sees in the role of an artist.
A regular sight on stages around London and beyond, playing – and often leading – groups like The Comet Is Coming, Sons of Kemet and Melt Yourself Down, he’s part of a generation whose idea of jazz is pointedly unrefined. That’s to say, Wisdom of the Elders comes from an artist interested in the indefinable gaps more than fitting into boxes.