5 Minutes With Shabaka Hutchings

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Saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings returns to Cheltenham in 2013 with his critically acclaimed contemporary jazz band, Sons of Kemet.

Sons of Kemet create music with a distinctive street music feel, combining influences from New Orleans, West African drum music and Caribbean dub. Featuring the powerful double drumming talents of Seb Rochford and Tom Skinner, alongside the innovative tuba player Oren Marshall this is one of the UK’s finest contemporary jazz bands around.

We caught up with Shabaka ahead of his Cheltenham Jazz Festival appearance

Cheltenham was one of my very first gigs …

about eight years ago. I was still a student then, so it was really special. I’ve been back a few times since playing with all kinds of groups and I’m returning this year with my own band, Sons of Kemet.

My favourite show …

was actually at Cheltenham Jazz Festival. It was for young, up and coming artists, and we played with (renowned Jazz drummer) Jack DeJohnette. To have the masterclasses, and then to get to play with that kind of genius supporting you was amazing.

It’ll be great to bring Sons of Kemet out of the capital …

we’ve been doing all kinds of stuff in and around London, so it’s going to be great to bring our sound to Cheltenham. And Festival audiences are always so up for it: there’s time for them to really get in to the music.

Anyone coming to see us can expect …

integrity, energy, and lots of sweat! We don’t especially mean to, it just happens! With two drummers and a tuba player, there’s a lot going on in our shows.

Of all the people I’ve ever wanted to collaborate with …

it’s the guys who I’m in the band with now (drummers Seb Rochford and Tom Skinner and tuba player Oren Marshall). That’s the great thing about putting your own band together: you get to pick who you work with.

Right now, I’m working on …

all kinds of writing work, including scoring a piece for an entire orchestra, it’s great. And the band have an album out too later this year.

Catch Sons of Kemet at the Jazz Festival on Saturday 4 May
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