FREE jazz collective Irreversible Entanglements have been whipping up a storm with their eponymous debut album/EP, a fiercely political indictment against police brutality, racism and much more besides.
The centrepiece of this wonderfully eclectic ensemble is spoken word poet and activist Camae Ayewa, best known for her experimental solo project Moor Mother.
Her protest lyrics, a nod to the Southern Gothic, frequently shine a damning spotlight on the struggle against racism in post-slavery US and its shameful past that is no less resonant in Europe and beyond.
“Since the Southern flag came down ain't nothing left except jails and burning churches,” she says on Chicago to Texas.
“And all them cotton fields picked bare. All them cotton fields and lifetime of picking, we disappear we disappear. Right under the watchful eyes of those who rape us in jail cells at night. We disappear.”
Unsurprisingly the quartet, completed by saxophonist Kurt Neuringer, bassist Luke Stewart, drummer Tcheser Holmes and trumpeter Aquiles Navarro, formed after meeting at a Musicians Against Police Brutality gig in the US, put on following the police shooting of 28-year-old black father Akai Gurley.
At Hackney's finest venue for all that is avant-garde, Ayewa proves that she's no less a force of nature live than she sounds on record.
Above the skilfully performed freeform jazz she hollers: “I wanna know what made you give a shit" and later talks of leaving the city, country and planet. A seeming reference to Afrofuturism, with one of its many doctrines imagining a better place for black people on another planet.
In another line she asks the packed cafe: ”Did you vote for the Queen ... did you vote for corruption?”
A mesmerising final piece, where the band is joined by support act Pat Thomas on piano, is an extraordinary sight to see with the brass section playing as intensely as humanely possible while Ayewa resorts to mixing recorded loops.
As with many nights at this venue, the audience leave as if purged.
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