Shabaka Hutchings Relaxes Into Change

A Deeper Listen
Hosted by Emily Fox

Shabaka Hutchings is a celebrated saxophone player and a major figure in London’s contemporary jazz scene.

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photo by Atiba Jefferson

Shabaka Hutchings is a celebrated saxophone player and a major figure in London’s contemporary jazz scene. He was the bandleader for Sons of Kemet and Shabaka and the Ancestors, and part of the electronic jazz group The Comet Is Coming. But on New Year's Day of 2023, he announced he'd be putting down the saxophone for good and focusing on a new instrument: the flute. Starting with the Japanese shakuhachi and expanding to a variety of traditional flutes, he's now out with his first full-length album under his solo moniker of Shabaka. The album is called Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace, and features collaborations with Carlos Niño, Laraaji, Andre 3000, Floating Points, Esperanza Spalding, Moses Sumney, and more.

Shabaka talks with KEXP’s Isabel Khalili about his transition from saxophone to flute and how it’s helped him learn to release tension and relax into playing. He also discusses his thoughts on the term "Afrofuturism," how he’s embraced Octavia Butler's ideas on the inevitability of change, what it means to heal through music, and his search for meaning outside of a Western colonial paradigm.

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