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The New Cool: London's Sons of Kemet in Seattle

London quartet Sons of Kemet at Barboza in Seattle Sunday night!
Abe Beeson
Sons of Kemet - sounds great on the turntable, even better live!

It's been a busy week at KNKX, and thanks to listeners like you, the Fall fund drive has concluded with our incredibly ambitious $600,000 goal reached this past Thursday. Thank you! Now on with the show...

London's modern jazz scene continues to impress from across the pond, and Sunday night one of that city's top saxmen brings his quartet to Seattle for a show you shouldn't miss.

You've heard Shabaka Hutchings on The New Cool playing sax with Tom Skinner's Hello Skinny project, Austrian band Shake Stew, and singer Zara McFarlane. He's best known, though, for Sons of Kemet. The band formed in 2011 with Skinner and Seb Rochford on drums and Oren Marshall on tuba. Theon Cross plays tuba on their new 3rd album, Your Queen is a Reptile, just released on Impulse! Records.

As you might imagine, a two-drummer quartet creates a percussive sound, and the tuba provides the bass that rounds out this rhythm section. Hutchings saxophone is also very rhythmic, and provides most of the melodies in the quartet.

The resulting music is influenced by African and modern electronic rhythms, while the songs themselves offer variations on a theme. Punchy and driving saxophone lines ache with passion, urging listeners to move their feet and let the various rhythmic forms take over.

The album title points to the listener, but the song titles belong to the band: "My Queen..." rather than "Your Queen...". Their queens include Hutchings' great grandmother from Barbados (who lived to 103), and female civil rights leaders from Africa, Jamaica and especially the USA. We dig into "My Queen is Harriet Tubman" on the show this week, a rollicking piece with a joyful, unrelenting sound.

Sons of Kemet makes a rare appearance in Seattle this Sunday night, performing at Barboza, beneath Neumo's on Capital Hill. Opening the show is the iconic Seattle avant gard duo Bad Luck, recently featured in live performance in the KNKX studios. Don't miss this opportunity to catch the cream of the talented UK modern jazz crop in our own backyard!

Sunday evening also marks the beginning of the Earshot Jazz Festival, with New Cool favorites Marquis Hill and Logan Richardson both leading bands at the KEXP gathering space, with their own concerts following that night (Richardson) and Monday (Hill) at Lo-Fi and the Royal Room respectively. Check out my New Cool preview here, and get yourself some world-class live jazz!

The New Cool airs Saturdays from 3 to 5pm, hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Wash.