About Shabaka Hutchings
Shabaka Hutchings was born in England and raised in Barbados, where he began his musical journey. There he played in local calypso bands, classical ensembles and various jazz groups. In 2003, he was awarded a place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he completed a degree majoring in classical clarinet. During this time, he was involved with the Tomorrow's Warriors organisation, the Abraham Wilson sextet and Jazz Jamaica. He also led his own group, Splay, which performed at the Cheltenham and Coventry jazz festivals.
In 2008, Shabaka joined Courtney Pine's Jazz Warriors ensemble, which toured the United Kingdom and released a live album entitled 'Afropeans'. He also embarked on a long standing relationship with the band Polar Bear, serving as the regular replacement for the saxophonists in the group. Shabaka's next self-led project was the group Zed-U, a genre-defying trio comprised of Neil Charles on electric bass and Tom Skinner on drums. Zed-U strove to merge the varied musical worlds coexisting in London at the time: where jazz, punk, electronica, dub and ambient music could be meshed into one homogenous experience. The group released their debut album 'Night-time on the Middle Passage' on Babel Records to critical acclaim.
In 2009, Shabaka was invited to join the group The Heliocentrics and featured on their 'Inspiration, Information' album (Strut Records), working with Ethiopian vibraphone and percussion master, Mulatu Astatke. He has since undertaken numerous European tours with them and features on their forthcoming album.
Up until this point in his career, Shabaka has been able to share the stage with many top jazz musicians and ensembles. These include Jack DeJohnette at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Charlie Haden with his Liberation Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, the UK-based trip-hop group Red Snapper in a tour of Russia, and Jerry Dammers' Spatial AKA Orchestra at the Barbican Centre. Shabaka is part of London's community of younger jazz musicians, and has recorded with and performed in numerous ensembles (such as those led by Kit Downes, Jay Phelps, Arun Ghosh, Kaidi Tatham, and Tom Challenger to name a few).
Shabaka is also a part of London's thriving improvised music scene and has performed free music in various musical settings. He has played with the likes of Evan Parker, John Butcher, Lol Coxhill, the South African legend Louis Moholo, Pat Thomas, John Edwards and Mark Sanders. Until recently, he was a member of a regular trio with the late Tony Marsh and bassist Guillaume Viltard. In 2011, Shabaka took part in a three day festival in Berlin called 'just not cricket' showcasing 3 generations of British free improvisation. The performances were documented to be released as a feature film in the near future.
Shabaka's latest project is the group Sons of Kemet, which includes Seb Rochford and Tom Skinner on drums, and Oren Marshall on tuba. This group explores Shabaka's Caribbean heritage and has been described by the Guardian as "a dazzlingly adventurous and very accessible groove-band….almost certain to dominate the best of 2012 lists at the end of the year". In 2011, Sons of Kemet was asked to record an exclusive set for a BBC Jazz on 3 programme showcasing the band. Sons of Kemet's debut album is due for release later in 2013.
In 2010, Shabaka was granted the title of BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist which has allowed him to undertake numerous commissions, as well as broadcast performances on radio over the last couple years. These have included performances with Julian Joseph, the BBC Big Band, and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (with whom he performed the Copland Clarinet Concerto in the Wales Millennium Centre). Shabaka was commissioned to compose a piece for the BBC Concert Orchestra in the 2012 London Jazz Festival. For this performance he assembled the Sons of Kemet plus two electronic musicians - Leafcutter John and Jason Singh to create a fusion of modern classical, jazz and electronica worlds. The piece 'Babylon' was performed in the Queen Elizabeth Hall and broadcast on BBC Radio 3.