Shabaka and Le String Noise ensure jazz stays modern — and then some

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Shabaka and The Ancestors, and the Cajun/string ensemble group Le String Noise, are in the forefront of (primarily) instrumental groups carrying on the tradition of modern jazz’s outer limits. Shabaka Hutchings is a very busy man, as lead saxophonist for both Sons of Kemet and The Comet Is Coming, as well as founder of his own band, The Ancestors. The latter band’s new work We Are Sent Here by History (Impulse!) combines the kind of futurist chanting favored by Sun Ra, with smooth sax riffs suggestive of John Coltrane. Even if the quasi-religiosity of tracks like “They Who Must Die” are excessive at times, this is the repository for Hutchings’ best work.

Leyla McCalla, a cellist who worked with Rhiannon Giddens in Carolina Chocolate Drops and on last year’s Our Native Daughters project, has partnered with violin duo String Noise and Louis Michot of Lost Bayou Ramblers. The live set L.E.S. Douze Volume 2: Le String Noise (Nouveau Electric Records) careens from traditional Bayou tunes to the avant-noise track “No More Beatlemania,” to a cover of Violent Femmes’ “Gone Daddy Gone,” creating a hybrid “avant-Cajun” that is an aural adventure unlike anything else in the jazz or roots worlds these days.