Shabaka & the Ancestors is a modern avant-jazz octet led by British/Caribbean tenor saxophonist and composer Shabaka Hutchings. The rest of its membership is comprised entirely of South African members who include Mthunzi Mvubu (alto sax); Mandla Mlangeni (trumpet); Siyabonga Mthembu (vocals); Nduduzo Makhathini (Rhodes, piano); Ariel Zamonsky (bass); Gontse Makhene (percussion), and Tumi Mogorosi (drums).
Hutchings had made several trips to South Africa between 2012 and 2014, immersing himself in the wide variety of the country’s rich musical heritage. In early 2015, he assembled this group to “present the musical language that I normally associate with my U.K. bands in the context of Shabaka & the Ancestors’ music and musical sensibilities.” He composed a psalm in nine parts and recorded it. The finished album, Wisdom of Elders, was issued on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood label in September 2016.