Rather provincial, the once so important festival in Saalfelden this year. One exception: Shabaka Hutchings. With the “press” he spoke about Africa and female history.
“I am named after the Nubian King Shabaka”: Shabaka Hutchings, born in 1984 in London, grew up mostly in Barbados. Today he is part of the very lively jazz scene in London. On Saturday he plays at the Jazzfestival Saalfelden – as a guest of the Austrian formation Shake Stew.
Once the jazz festival Saalfelden radiated far beyond the Pinzgau, now it seems on the descent into the regional league. The big bow to jazz history does not need it anymore, Intendant Mario Steidl recently told the ORF: “Our festival is not there for that. We’re trying to present the big names of tomorrow today. ”
But that does not happen. The two creative centers of contemporary jazz have been neglected in recent years: neither the scene around the massively young listener attracting US saxophonist Kamasi Washington nor the London musicians, who are currently thinking radically new, were in Saalfelden. Instead, they are increasingly relying on domestic forces, which are seen all year round anyway. If that can go well?
This year, the Saalfelden program has just two musicians of real international size: Marc Ribot from New Jersey, the old jockeys of jazz guitar, with partisan songs. And the 33-year-old British saxophonist and clarinetist Shabaka Hutchings. He does not come with one of his three pioneering bands, he’s just invited as a guest of the local combo Shake Stew.
That’s a pity, Hutchings is considered the new Renaissance man of jazz. His worldly stylistic breadth is based on his childhood. Born in the United Kingdom, raised in Barbados (and landed in Birmingham at the age of 16), he was alone as an only child. Computer games forbade his mother, so he jumped on music, played clarinet to the hip-hop of 2Pac and Biggie Smalls. He did not like jazz at all. But then his mother took him to a concert by Courtney Pine, where he met backstage the only a few years older saxophonist Soweto Kinch.
In search of myths: Kinch opened the door for him into the vast land of jazz. Soon Hutchings founded his own bands, such as Sons Of Kemet. Where does the band name come from? “I’ve been researching my own name,” he tells the “press”: “I am named after the Nubian King Shabaka. He had his religious and philosophical thoughts carved in a stone. Over the millennia, people have been busy deciphering the inscriptions of the Shabaka Stone. Docking on this ancient culture is called Kemetism. And because my role models, like Sun Ra and Pharoah Sanders, were already working on it in the 1960s, I thought that would be a good band name. ”
In the writings of the Afro-centric musician and thinker Sun Ra, he was also convinced by the idea that only societies that design their own mythology can assert themselves. “My first question before recording my new album ‘Your Queen Is a Reptile’ was: are we still capable of developing our own narrative?” So Hutchings was looking for a female story negated by the patriarchal society: “I have it pondering which women have inspired me. As a result, I symbolically elevated women like Harriet Tubman, Angela Davis and Ada Eastman to the peerage. They are my Queens – not Queen Elizabeth II. ”
In recent years, Hutchings played not only with the Sun Ra Arkestra, but also with African champions such as Mulatu Astatke and King Sunny Adé. “It was a new adventure for me,” he says: “They are about getting along with a few grades. Coming from the boundlessness of improvisation, I enjoyed the limitations of, say, Ethiopian jazz. They give you a very own freedom. ”
Can jazz still be a force for political change? Hutchings is cautious: “Not in the literal sense. You just put a mood in the people who are listening. If you’re lucky, then you interpret the world differently. ”
So you can expect in Saalfelden at least from Shabaka Hutchings exciting. “When I play the alto sax,” he promises, “then basically there is anarchy. New things often break out of me.”