Artist News

Shabaka Hutchings explains decision to stop playing saxophone at the end of 2023

By | Published on Tuesday 4 July 2023


Shabaka Hutchings – of bands including The Comet Is Coming and Sons Of Kemet – has issued a statement elaborating on his decision to stop playing saxophone from the end of this year.

Hutchings first announced his plans to take a “hiatus” from the instrument on New Year’s Day, telling fans that – once this year is up – “I don’t know when or if I’ll return to the big metal horn”.

Now, six months on from that announcement, he has provided a lengthier explanation of his decision, writing on social media: “What I do on stage when I play the sax is intense both physically and emotionally”.

“I’m able to undertake the kind of intense touring which finds me on the road consistently”, he goes on, “treating the performance of a spiritual practice as a commodity to be sold repeatedly because of my enthusiasm towards what I’m doing. The moment this enthusiasm wanes in the slightest is the moment it’s time to reassess artistic orientation. This is the point I’m at”.

“The safe option would be to just do less gigs on the sax and not take the extreme option of ending my association with it”, he admits. “Unfortunately I’m not that guy”.

“I’m deeply grateful to be able to channel energy from a source that resides outside myself while undertaking the ceremony of ritual performance. I take my role in being a custodian of energy that rouses the spirit seriously and when called to make a sacrifice for an artistic purpose that I sense deep in my intuited mind’s eye I choose to follow with humility and gratitude to a higher power”.

Noting that he still has numerous gigs with a variety of projects in his schedule before the year is out, he adds: “I intend to commit myself fully to these performances and reach for everything possible in my musical capacity on the instrument so that by the close of 2023 I can rest assured that I’ve ‘said’ what’s needed on that instrument for this time of my life”.

But what will Hutchings do once he’s laid down his sax? Well, he sighs: “Because it seems like on the internet things need to be spelled out explicitly or else messages get distorted and mis-spread I’ll emphasise the fact that I’m only stopping the sax”.

“There are many other instruments which I play”, he adds. “I’ve nearly finished the production of my first full solo album which features many of these and will be released early next year. For now, however, I’ll enjoy every moment I have left with the big, loud, shiny horn and I hope you do too”.

For the next few months, Hutchings’ time will largely be taken up by performing with The Comet Is Coming at festivals around the UK, elsewhere in Europe and in the US.