Perceive its Beauty Acknowledge its Grace by Shabaka album review by Greg Walker for Northern Transmissions. The LP is now out via Impulse!


Perceive its Beauty, Acknowledge its Grace


Like Andre 3000, who released his flute record to the world’s enjoyment and bewilderment this year, Shabaka Hutchings who is known for his rigorous saxophone playing in bands like Sons of Kemet and The Comet Is Coming has reinvented himself and embraced the softer side of jazz and New Age music on his latest release, a debut full length under just the name Shabaka, called Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace. Saying that he has decided to step away from the saxophone because of the heavy wear and tear of touring and what he feels like has been the commodification of his gift, he, a multi-instrumentalist, makes his pivot to the flute with grace.

The album features an all-star cast of supporting artists, including Andre 3000, Esperanza Spalding, Moses Sumney, and rapper ELUCID. The spoken word or sung pieces enhance and give meat to an otherwise breathy and meditative album. With song titles like “Breathing” and “The Wounded Need To Be Replenished,” he gives voice to a new and more restful chapter in his storied career. “Sitting in a garden / Overlooking the canyon / Giving thanks / An act of participation with my environment / I hear birdsong and construction / The rustle of leaves on bamboo / The hum of electricity / And the constant thought of you.”

It starts with two two minute something songs, but boasts seven minute songs on the album as well. Between the thrilling features and the inclusion of instrumental songs interwoven with vocal songs, the pacing of the album is impeccable. It is like a healing balm, from start to finish, and acts a salve for life’s more difficult realities. “I am your culture / know me / for I am your future,” Anum Iyapo speaks out with passion on the album closer, “Song Of The Motherland.” There is the weight of history in his songs, his own and his ancestors’, and the relief of embracing your identity and loving yourself and others.

His familiar saxophone playing is featured in one song, “Breathing,” giving his listeners hope that he has not set down his horn for good. But over all, it is a different direction for Shabaka, one that, like Andre 3000’s before him, appears to be an authentic attempt to approach music from a spiritual instead of a commercial or fame-based pursuit. It is, at once, fresh and steeped in musical history. An album that offers his listeners the rest, by way of flute, one of the most relaxing instruments of the bunch, they might deeply need.

Order Perceive its Beauty, Acknowledge its Grace by Shabaka HERE

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