Some musicians blaze a trail so fiercely that others get caught up in the slipstream. Kamasi Washington is one, and there’s nothing left unchanged by his touch.
Washington polished his craft playing as a session musician for artists ranging from Herbie Hancock to Snoop Dogg, but it was his work on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly that saw him really turn heads. When he turned to composing, producing and performing with his own band, that promise erupted with a force beyond anyone’s imagining.
His fertile, expansive style of jazz might have roots in Coltrane, Davis and Sun Ra but equally rips chunks of inspiration from Afrobeat, trance, electronica and soul. Intricate solos spill out into sweeping orchestration of a cinematic scale, conjuring vistas of an Afrofuturist utopia hovering on the horizon.
The best way to experience the cleanse and burn of Kamasi Washington’s music is live.