(schedule of performers is subject to change)
Sons Of Kemet are born of many vital elements -- including a name that nods to ancient Egyptian culture, and a line-up that comprises some of the most progressive 21st-century talents in British jazz and beyond. Band-leader, composer and sax and clarinet don Shabaka Hutchings (himself named after a Nubian pharaoh-philosopher) brings together his fiery vision alongside London-based bandmates Tom Skinner and Seb Rochford (forming a dynamo duo on drums here) and latest addition Theon Cross (taking over from Oren Marshall on tuba).
These collaborative players have previously won major praise in celebrated acts such as Polar Bear, Hello Skinny, Melt Yourself Down, Mulatu Astatke and the Heliocentrics, and Sun Ra's Arkestra. Yet there's still nothing quite like the 'supergroup' sound of Sons Of Kemet: eloquent, fierce, explosively funky -- and thrillingly out-there.
'I see Sons Of Kemet as a group that's free to explore even more areas,' smiles the genial 31-year-old Hutchings. 'The music is driven by the band's synergy, but it could go anywhere, and we've played everywhere from sit-down art venues to sweaty nightclubs and international festivals; we're not forced into one direction. We can let our musicality take on a life of its own. When we play live, we know what the end result is: everyone in hysteria. But how we get there is anyone's guess.'
Singer, songwriter and guitarist, Mélissa Laveaux heads to Haiti in search of her roots and on a mission to honour her ancestors. Two decades have gone by since she last set foot on the island when she was 12 years old. She feels like a stranger and yet, at the same time, she experiences the thrill of an exile returning home, for Haiti is an intrinsic part of her identity.
Born in Canada to Haitian parents and armed with a patched-together vocabulary of Creole from the metaphor-laden expressions and vibrant catch-phrases she’s heard her mother trade with her aunts over longdistance phone calls, she doesn’t know what will emerge musically from her pilgrimage. But as she dives in and discovers the folk songs that bred and nourished Haitians artists for generations, she is seduced by the depth and opulence of her extraordinary heritage.
She returned home from Haiti with a head full of sounds, melodies, moods and stories of distant times, as a track-list emerged, rich in the multi-layered allegories and symbolism that are characteristic of Haitian poetry and song, like a coded language of resistance.