'Black To The Future' is my first introduction into the world of the UK Jazz band Sons of Kemet and it was a great introduction to say the least. The groups saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings is someone who I'm relatively familiar with as I loved the 2020 project 'We Are Sent Here By History' which he was involved with under Shabaka and the Ancestors, and it was easily the best Jazz record of 2020 in my opinion with it's dense and engaging takes on Avant-Garde Jazz, Spiritual Jazz and Afro-Jazz. So knowing that Shabaka Hutchings was involved with Sons of Kemet you could bet that I was very excited to see what the band presented, and I was blown away by what they brought to the table on 'Black to the Future'.
'Black to Future' in some respects is similar to 'We Are Sent Here By History', it features fusions of Afro-Jazz and Spiritual Jazz with an emphasis of themes revolving around racism and Afrofuturism, this is made pretty clear on the opening track with poet Joshua Idehen delivering a powerful and gut wrenching piece of vivid and dark poetry portraying these themes. In fact multiple guests on the project have the same impact but Joshua Idehen stands out the most given what he's saying, how he's delivering it, and the fact that he's on the beginning and end of the album (and that's not trying to downplay what Kojey Radical, D Double E and the rest do as they're great as well). Instrumentally this band has a unique setup with a saxophone, tuba, and two drummers primarily, and the group indulge heavily in a lot of hypnotic afro-jazz melodies, fantastic rhythmic tendencies, ridiculously chaotic improv and frequently meditative grooves and atmospheres, all of which I found to be very engaging and consistently gratifying. Shabaka is an absolute beast on the saxophone so there's not much that disappoints me on that front, the tuba playing is great and I love how they add to the undertones of the album and to the overall textures, and the drumming while at times flat sonically provide outstanding grooves and beats to the tracks.
I still have yet to hear the bands record 'Your Queen Is a Reptile' which a lot of people have reviewing this have pointed out as being far more energetic and electrifying in contrast with 'Black to the Future', I'll definitely dig that approach but the bands more meditative and hypnotic approach on 'Black to the Future' is fantastic to me. I loved the instrumentation, I loved the sound and textures of the production, and Sons of Kemet truly stand out with a fantastic Jazz record in 'Black to the Future'