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Jazz - Released May 11, 2015 | Brainfeeder

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music - Indispensable JAZZ NEWS - L'album du mois JAZZ NEWS - Qobuzissime
The Epic is saxophonist Kamasi Washington's aptly titled, triple-length, 172-minute debut album for Brainfeeder. He is a veteran of L.A.'s music scene and has played with Gerald Wilson, Harvey Mason, Flying Lotus, and Kendrick Lamar (his horn is prominently featured on To Pimp a Butterfly), to name but a few. Most of his bandmates have played together since high school, and it shows. There are two drummers (including Ronald Bruner), two bassists (including Stephen "Thundercat" Bruner on electric), two keyboardists, trumpet, trombone, and vocals (Patrice Quinn). In various settings, they are supported by a string orchestra and full choir conducted by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. Washington composed 13 of these 17 tunes; he also meticulously arranged and produced them. At just over six to nearly 15 minutes, the jams leave room for engaged improvisation. The Epic is based on a concept, though it's unnecessary to grasp in order to enjoy. The music reflects many inspirations -- John Coltrane, Horace Tapscott's Pan-African People's Arkestra, Azar Lawrence's Prestige period, Donald Byrd's and Eddie Gale's jazz and choir explorations, Pharoah Sanders' pan global experiments, Afro-Latin jazz, spiritual soul, and DJ culture. A formidable soloist (he plays his ass off here), Coltrane is his greatest influence, but his tone is rawer, somewhere between Sanders and Albert Ayler. Disc one's "Change of the Guard" is an overture that commences with confident modal piano, a labyrinthine ensemble head, testifying choir, and bright, expansive solos from piano, trumpet, tenor, and upright bass, creating openness and drama. There's balladic progressivism ("Isabelle"), strident Afro-Latin grooves ("Final Thought"), and Central Avenue roots ("The Next Step"), before it turns toward soulful futurism on "The Rhythm Changes," with vocals from Quinn. Disc two features the carooming electric post-bop of "Miss Understanding" with explosive choir, nasty Rhodes piano, and killer solos by Washington and trumpeter Igmar Thomas. "Re Run" emerges as sun-kissed spiritual jazz with trilling strings and choir before it evolves swinging, with a funky swagger amid popping keys, fleet electric bass, and trombone solos and strident breaks. "The Magnificent 7" contains an obvious cinematic reference with its swirling kinetic strings and airy chorale, but the ground is roaring electric, spiritual jazz-funk courtesy of Thundercat and Brandon Coleman's organ and Rhodes. Disc three features the groove-drenched single "Re Run Home." Its head is straight on; Horace Silver and Harold Land come to mind, but the body spirals and turns left toward South L.A. funk. Traditions are bridged by a sunshiny soul cover of Ray Noble's standard "Cherokee," Terence Blanchard's poignant "Malcolm's Theme" (a gorgeous duet between Quinn and Dwight Trible), and a lithe read of Debussy's "Clair de Lune" before closing with the propulsive, Latin-tinged, funky vanguardism of "The Message." The Epic isn't fusion, retro, or remotely academic. It's 21st century jazz as accessible as it is virtuosic -- feel matters to Washington. Holistic in breadth and deep in vision, it provides a way into this music for many, and challenges the cultural conversation about jazz without compromising or pandering. ~ Thom Jurek

Jazz - Released June 22, 2018 | Young Turks Recordings

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music - Indispensable JAZZ NEWS
After the triple, the double! Kamasi Washington, who shook the jazzosphere with The Epic (2015) is still thinking big, with Heaven and Earth, an equally-copious diptych. Above all, it's a tsunami of pluralist jazz. It's just as mystical. It's just as collective. It's just as eclectic (we have a cover of Hubtones by Freddie Hubbard and, rather more madly, the theme from Bruce Lee's Fist of Fury by Bruce Lee). The Californian's music is as deft and ineffable as ever. It's his raison d’être. To return briefly to what sets him apart, our young saxophonist was a part of Brainfeeder, the Flying Lotus stable, the Young Turks, the label of The xx, FKA Twigs and Sampha, not really known for its jazz signings… Let him lead you by the hand across some sequences that are worthy heirs to the Afro-Futurism of Sun Ra, shamanic trances by Pharaoh Sanders, or Horace Tapscott's Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, the roars of Gato Barbieri, early Weather Report, flights of funk from Roy Ayers or alternate takes of Albert Ayler or John Coltrane… for Kamasi, Heaven and Earth are not two different volumes, but rather two parallel journeys: "“the world that we’re in [and] is what we imagine it to be... [Heaven is] one where what we think it’s going to be, it ends up becoming”. It is easy to be carried off by this stylistic richness across the two hours and twenty minutes of this jazz panorama; the listener is instantly overwhelmed by this creative torrent. It's impossible to be left unmoved by such force… © Marc Zisman/Qobuz

Contemporary Jazz - Released September 29, 2017 | Young Turks Recordings

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
In 2015, with his triple album aptly named The Epic, Kamasi Washington became, at over 34 years old, the new heartthrob of the jazz scene, even transcending its boundaries. It must be said that in parallel to his purely jazz works, the Californian saxophonist did a series of freelance works for artists as diverse as Kendrick Lamar (To Pimp a Butterfly and Damn), Flying Lotus (You’re Dead!), Thundercat (The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam), Run The Jewels (Run The Jewels 3) or even Ryan Adams (Gold). And since The Epic was released on Brainfeeder, the electro label created by Flying Lotus, all the elements were in place to make the man and his music even more atypical…. Here, this is yet again a “not really jazz” record label that welcomes him, Young Turks Records, a subdivision of XL Recordings where you’ll find The XX as well as FKA Twigs, Sampha and SBTRKT. A rather short opus (barely more than 30 minutes), Harmony Of Difference actually offers music that is mainly composed for a multimedia body of work presented at the Whitney Museum in New York, notably paintings by the saxophonist’s sister, Amani Washington, and a short film from the Spanish director AG Rojas. We arrive at a result rather in the spirit of The Epic. Kamasi Washington mixes energy and spirituality with the virtuosity for which he is known, his breath awakening the ghost of Gato Barbieri as well as the one of Pharoah Sanders. Also present is his capacity to stack the layers, whether percussive, blowing or harmonic, without ever being indigestible. On the contrary, the passion as well as the tsunami of emotions that emerge from Harmony Of Difference will even be able to reach an audience usually unreceptive to the jazz idiom… © MZ/Qobuz

Jazz - Released June 29, 2018 | Young Turks Recordings


Jazz - Released January 2, 2017 | Wide Hive Records


Jazz - Released September 6, 2016 | Wide Hive Records


Jazz - Released April 13, 2017 | Young Turks Recordings

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