It is quite a feast that the six-piece band from South Africa served the public at the Gésù last night, at the Montreal Jazz Fest. Afrobeat, free jazz, hard bop… name it, they had it in the back of their sleeve!

Shabaka and the Ancestors are made up of a dynamite rhythm section (drummer, percussionist, double-bass player), two saxophonists that take turns taking the lead and a singer that is more using his voice as an instrument, than for singing traditional “songs”. All these musicians get in their zone, in a trance where music makes the spirit travel where there are no frontiers.

The band members – all pretty young – are all from Johannesburg, except for band leader Shabaka Hutchings, one of the saxophonists, who is from London. From what I understand, this show in Montreal is quite an experience for the band, as they don’t play that often together.

jazz 2017 shabaka 1 CrNicoP

(photo Nico Pelletier)

The Ancestors are drummer Tumi Mogorosi, singer Siyabonga Mthembu, and alto sax player Mthunzi Mvubu. I unfortunately didn’t get the names of the double-bass player nor percussionist.

Lots of energy, sometimes even a little chaos à la Coltrane, and other times smoother moments. All in all, great show!


SHABAKA & THE ANCESTORS were playing at the Gésù, during the Montreal Jazz Fest, on Thursday, June 29, 2017.

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About The Author

Nicolas Pelletier

Mélomane invétéré et rédacteur agréé, Nicolas pratique la critique en mode olympique: il parle de tout, tout le temps, depuis 1991. Il a publié 6 000 critiques de disques et concerts dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur, dont il a également été le rédacteur-en-chef de 2009 à 2014. Il publie “Les perles rares et grands crus de la musique” en 2013, et devient stratège numérique des radios de Bell Média en 2015, participant au lancement de la marque iHeartRadio au Canada en 2016.