Sensationally led by the more than rapturous and charismatic Shabaka Hutchings, Sons of Kemet outperformed themselves at this highly anticipated closing gig. Programmed as part of the Edinburgh International Festival contemporary music strand, the London-based jazz musicians took to the finer venue of a sold-out Leith Theatre, reaping a thunderous applause and a high-octane substrata, as they leave the venue scathed with this high-energy performance.
After news of a band parting ways, certainly as it’s current formation, it’s expectedly notable that this EIF gig was sold out. Sons of Kemet, the Afro-Caribbean-influenced jazz from the London-based lads, were on fire tonight as they lit the Leith Theatre alight with their drums and horns. Swelling the venue with an afrofuturist sound that stimulated the audience to dance, Shabaka, and band, play with an energy that none of the rest of us can comprehend, as we take clammy space in the warm theatre this evening.
And both drummers, Eddie Hick and Tom Skinner, are tight, as Shabaka on tenor sax, and Theon Cross on tuba, battle it out. Oft a conventional jazz style, in that we can indulge in them each performing an improvised solo, there is too often a Ry Cooder Crossroads vibe to this gig as Hutchings and Cross perform unseemly things to both their instruments. Mesmerising, visceral, charismatic and transformative.
With all four musicians moving the bar in what is deemed jazz, clearly these legends are not going to give up on music despite their statement to halt the band –I don’t think their fans would allow it. With demands for an encore and a euphoric end to an astounding gig, this will long be left in everyone’s memory-banks and be an acclaim to the EIF’s contemporary music programme in future years.