Review: Sons of Kemet @ Village Underground (London, 25th May 2016)

Indulgent, complex, studied and immediate. Sons of Kemet’s criminally conceptual rhythms belie the overriding catchiness of a sound that dishes out hooks a plenty.

Ominous lighting introduced the band who kicked things of with Tom Skinner and, newly cropped, Seb Rochford battering syncopated West African rhythms. This was tribal jazz played with a punk attitude. Considering the sensitivity jazz musicians are known for, there is a welcome aggression the whole vibe of their set. Tuba player, Theon Cross compliments the saxophone shrills of master Shabaka Hutchings with his on stage energy.

Who would have a thought a tuba could solo and be abstract, all while balancing the responsibility of holding down hooky bass notes. Cross also delivered the seminal moment of the show with a song on his own that energised the crowd.

As the dark lighting gave way, their silhouettes became recognisable and you could make out the African prints donned by Cross and Hutchings, possibly a visual sign as to their musical intentions.  

As always, the sound at Village Underground was outstanding. Standing at the back of the room, you could clearly make out every hit and note. The size of the packed crowd was a testament to the fact that Sons of Kemet are genuine jazz superstars.

Sons of Kemet are a lesson in abstraction. They are neither bashment, Baltic, Afro or jazz. They are simply exceptional and privilege to behold.