Sunday, September 25, 2022

The Comet is Coming "Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam" & North American Tour: Sept 25 - Oct 22

Saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings' mining of jazz's cultural memory is informed by his numerous concurrent projects; the ensemble Sons of Kemet, its splinter trio The Comet Is ComingMelt Yourself Down, Afro-futurist outfit The Ancestors, and as a guest player with the legendary Sun Ra Arkestra. So there is possibly no better player in contemporary jazz more equipped to lead a quartet exploring the fringes of the territory once mapped out by post-bebop, Afrofuturist an spiritual jazz luminaries, Charles Mingus, Pharoah Sanders, and the aforementioned Sun Ra. Nowhere in Hutching's numerous settings is this more evident than in Sons of Kemet's "Your Queen is a Reptile" of 2018. The central quartet of Hutchings, Oren Marshall on tuba, and both Tom Skinner and Seb Rochford on drums, is aided by a rotating cast of contemporary jazz players including Pete Wareham, Eddie Hick, Moses Boyd, Maxwell Hallett, and Nubya Garcia in their ranks. The album was a first for Impulse!, the legendary and influential American jazz label that was home to Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Freddie Hubbard, and Bill Evans at the peak of their 1960's output. So these are the largest of jazz shoes to fill. This adds another weighty dimension to Hutchings’ relationship with American jazz, placing him among the players whose legacy he’s endeavoring to subvert, deconstruct, and expound upon. Covered in The Guardian's primer to this contemporary body of musicians, "The British Jazz Explosion: Meet the Musicians Rewriting the Rulebook", Hutchings acts as a pivot around which numerous players move through the scene. Which he enthusiastically explores in greater depth in his interview for The Guardian, "History Needs to Be Set Alight: Shabaka Hutchings on the Radical Power of Jazz".

Sons of Kemet have disbanded this past year after a series of highly successful tours across the United States and Europe, following the release of the "eloquent dance between anger and joy" that was 2021's "Black to the Future". Yet The Comet is Coming have found in their newest release a sound which has absorbed some of the qualities of his numerous projects into its folds. This fourth album for the outfit further delivering on the promise of the territory initially mapped out by Sons of Kemet as early as 2013, in their interview with The Quietus, "The Space Between One & Two". As with their debut for the Impulse! label, "Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery", the group take a further turn away from jazz tradition, with much of the album sculpted in post-production, highlighting the shifting mixtures of drummer Max Hallett and keyboardist Dan Leavers. A focal shift of influences also corresponds, weighing more heavily into 70s progressive and Krautrock, namely the territory mapped out by King Crimson, Amon Düül, and Belgian explorers Univers Zero, the tracks contained here transmute between abstract introductions, fractured rhythmic passages and dramatic heights of orchestrated synthesis and fusion. Explored in their "End Days Intensity: The Comet Is Coming" interview for The Quietus, their sounds flows through the gamut of ferocious moments of interplay between its trio, Hutching's saxophone blurting sentences, the synth squalls and level valleys of Leavers, and the finesse of Hallet's percussive detailing and force, all of which culminating in the roiling uneven surfaces with their cinematic, suggestively sci-fi future-scape. Touring for "Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam", released this month on Impulse!, the trio will be visiting cities across North America, with a date at The Crocodile in Seattle at the end of September.