Sons of Kemet’s favouritez sax solos


Armed with just one saxophone, one tuba and two drum kits, Sons of Kemet unleashed one of our standout live sets of the year, inside an 18th century fort-come-theatre at Worldwide Festival. In an age where so much live music relies on vocals to convey emotion and energy, SoK proved it was possible to reach those heights without singing a single note. Positioned mere inches from their enamoured audience, they executed it with an innate musicality, magnetic spontaneity and all with a smile on their face (apart from when blowing through their instrumental).

Not that such an ensemble lends itself to having a frontman, but saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings shined as the melodic lead, fully justifying why Brownswood signed him up for a solo album. It compelled us to ask him for some all time favourite sax solos, which he’s detailed below.

Borderless presents Sons of Kemet at Battersea Arts Centre, 11th Aug. Shabaka and the Ancestors – Wisdom of Elders LP is out 16th Sep. 

Wayne Shorter – ‘Oriental Folk Son’ (Live at Village Vanguard)

This might just be my favourite solo of all time. Wayne is a sonic poet. It’s like he deals in mystery and shadows, but when that light shines through it hits you right in the eye!!!

Pharaoh Sanders – ‘Love Will Find A Way’

Pharoah steps to the solo like Mike Tyson with a hard on! First note = POW! Knock out.

Tumi Mogorosi – ‘Slave’s Emancipation’

Nhlanhla Mahlangu goes so deep on this that first time I heard it I wanted to scream. And he does….on the track! My kind of solo.

Winston ‘Mankunku Ngozi – Yakhal Inkomo

Mankunku has what I like to call the drunken Shaolin style. One moment he’s playing the most in the groove phrase then he’s swerving off beat just until you think he’s off, then snap…he’s back in. Soloing like this is the opposite of the quantised sax style that the colleges spurt out. I love it!

Jackie Mclean – ‘King Tut’s Strut’

Jackie Mclean gets to a point in this solo where I swear he’s communicating with some other realm. I love when sax players get to peak intensity then hold a single note that stabs you in the chest, Game of Thrones style.

John Coltrane – ‘One Down, One Up’

25 minutes of pure energy, lyricism, emotion, interaction, information. Coltrane is the boss.

Albert Ayler – ‘Summertime’

Pure vocalisation. Ayler is the truth.

Ornette Coleman – ‘Faces and Places’

I get so much joy listening to Ornette. The way he plays with the drummer on here is a miracle!

Billy Harper – ‘Capra Black’

Billy floors me with the sound and the attitude. The first time I heard him I couldn’t believe it. Like someone had reached into my subconscious and dug out everything that I wanted from a tenor sax player and put it on wax.

Joe Henderson – tres palabras

Joe’s got the science!

Cannonball Adderly – ‘Hippodelphia’

Cannonball’s got the bounce.

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