5 minutes with Shabaka Hutchings


Fri, 26 Aug 2016 11:55:14 +0000

Jazz band Shabaka and the Ancestors recently launched an album, Wisdom of Elders, in South Africa. We chat to London-based member and saxophonist, Shabaka, about the album and his musical journey.

By Fundiswa Nkwanyana

1.When did you start playing the saxophone?

From an early age; I have been playing for over 20 years now. However, the last three years were a struggle as I was trying to find my voice, learning to play with a band and creating a sound that I am comfortable with.

2. What does music mean to you?

Although music was just a hobby when I was young, it is now my profession. It is more of an expression of how I feel.

3. Please explain the creative process of making an album.

I research the different styles and genres that I want to explore, listen to other artists and read up on music. I then immerse myself in the writing and compilation process. I allow myself to be inspired because sometimes, a beat comes to me while I am taking a shower or commuting on a train. Beats and rhythms are everywhere; we are just not aware of them.


4. Why did you work with South African musicians in your latest album?

I was inspired by South Africa’s rich legacy of jazz music and musicians. This album is a documentation of sessions I had with a group of jazz musicians that I have long admired. I love SA’s music because it is expressive, individualistic and intense.

5. What is the meaning behind the name of your album?

The title pays homage to the masters of music, because we draw from their artistic energy. We have the wisdom handed down to us by our respected elders; the title of my album honours them.

6. What does your album offer?

It will take listeners on a musical journey that is influenced by different sources – from the Caribbean to Central and Southern Africa’s Nguni music. It’s a great album.