The four members of Sons of Kemet dancing against a green backdrop
Credit: Udoma Janssen

Barbadian-British reedist Shabaka Hutchings can’t contain his creativity within a single group—right now he has three. His most expansive is Shabaka & the Ancestors, a sextext featuring several South African musicians rooted in Johannesburg’s freewheeling jazz scene. His tightest, the three-man the Comet Is Coming, brings the same spiritual profundity within a harder-rocking, more synth-saturated context. In the middle is Sons of Kemet, which has been one of the most paradigm-busting groups in contemporary jazz for more than a decade. The group’s music is immediately recognizable for its bass-heavy instrumentation: tenor sax or clarinet (Hutchings), two dueling drum kits (Tom Skinner and Eddie Hick, the latter of whom came aboard with 2018’s Your Queen Is a Reptile), and a tuba whose bass lines sound as hefty as anything pumped through a subwoofer (the indomitable Theon Cross, who joined the group for its second album, 2015’s Lest We Forget What We Came Here to Do). 

The Sons’ April 4 show at Lincoln Hall is the quartet’s first local appearance since the release of last year’s Black to the Future (Impulse!). That album extends the distinctive sound of the Sons’ 2013 debut, Burn, where the group whittles down West African and Caribbean dance rhythms into sharp points that needle their way into the folds of your brain. Hutchings’s pocket-size melodies are a constant, emerging straight from the grooves and remaining inseparable from them. But Black to the Future centers text far more than prior releases, which treated verse as largely peripheral to the music. Here, original poems turbo-boost the Sons’ uncompromisingly revolutionary fervor. Sons of Kemet reunite with poet Joshua Idehen for a searing album prelude (“Field Negus”) and postlude (“Black”). Later, they tap Moor Mother of Philly-based free-jazz ensemble Irreversible Entanglements for “Pick Up Your Burning Cross,” which might be the album’s most irrepressible track, and collaborate with grime spoken-word artist Kojey Radical on “Hustle,” a close second (Kojey just released a scintillating debut album, Reason to Smile). The keening vocals of Angel Bat Dawid set the stage for “Burning Cross,” and the Chicago composer and multi-instrumentalist will open this show. Her all-woman trio, Sistazz of the Nitty Gritty are slated to release their debut on local label International Anthem at a to-be-determined date.

Sons of Kemet, Angel Bat Dawid, Mon 4/4, 8 PM, Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln, $30, $25 in advance, 18+