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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Mélomane invétéré plongeant dans tous les genres et époques, Nicolas Pelletier a publié 6 000 critiques de disques et concerts depuis 1991, 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, lance le site RREVERB en 2014, et devient stratège numérique des radios de Bell Média en 2015, participant au lancement de la marque iHeartRadio au Canada en 2016. Il dirige maintenant la stratégie numérique d'ICI Musique, la radio musicale de Radio-Canada.