Sons of Kemet, led by multi-reedist Shabaka Hutchings, were crowned Best Jazz Act at the 2013 MOBO Awards. Winning the award gives further accolade to a quartet who have stormed onto the contemporary jazz scene, winning praise from fans and critics alike with their earthy visceral sound. What does it mean to Hutchings to win the award? “It means a lot. The MOBOs are one of the last awards that actually recognise jazz in the mainstream. It’s pretty amazing that we got this opportunity.”
An how important is it to have jazz represented in the mainstream? “I think it’s important because it seems like people’s perception of jazz, by in large, is different from what’s actually happening. It’s really important for people to have musical options.” The band comprises Hutchings, Oren Marshall on tuba, and drummers Tom Skinner and Seb Rochford. Hutchings explains why he chose this unconventional lineup: “One of the things I was checking out was a lot of West African music, and I wanted to get that real drum-heavy sound. I also wanted to take away the emphasison the saxophone.
I think with two drummers, there’s so much rhythm that it means the sax is almost part of that rhythmical framework.” Marshall was added because “the tuba brings a lot to the music. It changes its function, sometimes it can act as bass, sometimes rhythmically and sometimes as a soloist. On another level, there is also something about the sonics of the tuba that’s warmer; it has this really earthy sound.”