The a new album from Sean Khan, the London based multi-instrumentalist who recently ventured to Rio de Janeiro to collaborate with iconic Brazilian polymath Hermeto Pascoal. Taking its title from the escaped slave settlement ‘Palmares’ in the Northeast of Brazil during the 1600s, Palmares Fantasy is Khan’s utopian jazz message for the world, and features Azymuth drummer Ivan ‘Mamão’ Conti, bassist Paulo Russo, guitarist Jim Mullen, and guest vocals from Brazilian singer Sabrina Malheiros, and Cinematic Orchestra frontwoman Heidi Vogel.
Like Hermeto Pascoal, Sean Khan is a self-taught musician. Never able to afford his original dream of studying at Berklee, and having been turned away from Guildhall School of Music for being ‘too raw’, he became disillusioned with what he saw as the exclusivity, elitism and dangerous institutionalisation of the jazz world. Yet Sean’s love for music and the drive to create never faltered.
Hermeto Pascoal, the man Miles Davis once dubbed “the most impressive musician in the world”, is a similarly independent artist. A true maverick whose ingenuity and freedom from conventional restraints is so great that he has essentially conceived his own musical language, made him the dream collaboration for Khan.
A vision of inclusivity and equality also informs the message in the music. Inspired by the 17th Century settlement of Palmares in Brazil’s Bahia region - the birthplace of Capoeira - which resisted the Portuguese and Spanish crown’s murderous exploitation of South America for a century, Khan notes his fascination with the fact that "while majoritively made up of escaped African slaves, many deserter conquistadors joined the settlement, and women had equal rights in the community, which was unheard of for this time."
Listening to the deep-grooving title track 'Palmares Fantasy' with this history in mind, you're transported to Khan's futuristic musical eden, with Mamão’s insatiable 10/8 rhythm back-boning Hermeto’s beautifully wild improvised vocals, rhodes and whistles.