Jazz on the Mercury list

A jazz-flavoured album, Sons Of Kemet's Your Queen Is A Reptile, is among the 12 albums on the 2018 Hyundai Mercury Music Prize shortlist

The 2018 Hyundai Mercury Music Prize shortlist features a jazz-oriented album, Your Queen Is A Reptile, from Sons Of Kemet. Its inclusion follows serial observations over the years that the Mercury prize includes a token jazz album that never wins.

Sons Of Kemet (pictured right) is led by reeds player and composer Shabaka Hutchings (profiled in JJ’s July 2013 issue). Along with Hutchings, tuba player Theon Cross and drummers Tom Skinner and Seb Rochford, the album features guests such as saxophonists Nubya Garcia and Pete Wareham, drummers Moses Boyd and Eddie Hick and vocalist Josh Idahen. Each track on Your Queen Is A Reptile is dedicated to inspirational women such as Harriet Tubman, Doreen Lawrence and Angela Davis – the album title refers to the belief that the British royal family are aliens.

The Mercury prize, founded many years ago as the antidote to mainstream pop awards, is open to recordings from British and Irish performers of contemporary music. To be eligible for consideration for the Hyundai Mercury Music Prize, a record must last for more than 25 minutes and/or contain at least four tracks and must have had a digital release between 22 July 2017 and 20 July 2018. It must be submitted for consideration by the record company rather than by the artists. All of the albums entered for this year’s award were considered by a panel of judges which included musician and broadcaster Jamie Cullum.

The shortlist includes releases from more pop-styled mainstream bands such as the Arctic Monkeys, Florence and the Machine, Wolf Alice and Lily Allen.

The winning album will be announced at the 2018 Awards Show, due to take place at the Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, on 20 September. The show will be broadcast live on BBC Four and BBC 6 Music.

In what looks like the closest competition for some years, on the day of the shortlist’s announcement bookmakers William Hill made Florence And The Machine, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Arctic Monkeys the 4/1 joint favourites for the prize. Sons Of Kemet, Nadine Shah and Novelist have the longest odds, of 10/1.

Bruce Lindsay

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