Music

Kamasi Washington at Blue Note: 25 August 2015 (Photos)

All the press raving about Kamasi Washington are correct. The tenor saxophonist's Epic performances are not to be missed.


Kamasi Washington
City: New York
Venue: Blue Note
Date: 2015-08-25

The first time most people will hear the name Kamasi Washington is in connection with many of the people he's collaborated with, Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat or Flying Lotus to name a few. But Washington is more than a supporting player for these colleagues. He's a downright monster of a musician whose first album The Epic is a three hour wild ride through jazz, fused with hip-hop, soul and other influences. His first shows in New York City were the four gigs over two nights at the famed Blue Note establishment. All the seats at the shows were sold out, but some bar spots were available before each show and as a result, the Blue Note had a line down the block, with some people waiting several hours to see Washington perform. Fortunately, I was able to get in for the 8 pm set on the second night.

When Washington took the stage, it was, as ZealNYC noted, "with a humble spirit of appreciation, saying that he was thrilled to be playing in New York for the first time—and above all at the Blue Note. After noting that the stage was a bit of a tight fit for his band (pianist/keyboardist, trombonist, vocalist, acoustic and electric basses bassists, and two powerful, sparking drummers as well as several guests to come), the tenor saxist said, “We’re going to take you on a little journey,” which as it turned out was an understatement. He launched into an epic set that clocked in at just shy of two hours—again, a treat given that set lists in all the New York clubs range from 50 to 70 minutes max." The set began with "Changing of the Guard" a fusion tune that had me recalling (from my limited jazz knowledge) Return to Forever.

Washington's epic band, really his musical community, included, Stephen "Thundercat" Bruner, drummers Tony Austin (also an audio engineer) and Ronald Bruner (they met when he was three years old), Ryan Porter on trombone, vocalist Patrice Quinn (one of his favorite singers), Miles Mosley on bass and at times, Igmar Thomas on trumpet, Terence Martin on alto saxo and for the finale, Washington's father, Rickey Washington on soprano sax. And Washington gave each and every one of them a chance to shine whether it be through a solo or through one of their own numbers. Mosley's impressive solo (one of his own songs) was a tremendous demonstration of what one person can draw from the bass as he deftly produced sounds I would have thought required looping pedals (Washington preempted him to say there are no buttons or motors on it and it's made out of standard wood). Quinn got to shine on jazz standard "Cherokee", one of the tracks on The Epic. And as his son stepped aside, Rickey Washington stood center stage to perform "Malcolm's Theme". Washington graciously thanked the crowd for coming out as he laughingly plugged the tank tops and t-shirts he had available for sale upstairs. There wasn't much time before he had to do it all again for the 10:30 show. Fortunately for those who missed him, Washington is returning to New York in October (tour dates below). I've already got my tickets -- his show was truly one of the best performance I've seen.

Kamasi Washington Tour Dates:

Sep 09 Bottom Lounge Chicago, IL

Sep 10 ICEHOUSE Minneapolis, MN

Sep 11 Slowdown Omaha, NE

Sep 13 Soda Bar San Diego, CA

Sep 16 Smith Center Las Vegas, NV

Sep 18 Harlow's Sacramento, CA

Sep 19 The Warfield San Francisco, CA

Sep 24 Boulder Theater Boulder, CO

Sep 25 The State Room Salt Lake City, UT

Oct 15 BRIC HOUSE Brooklyn, NY

Oct 16 le poisson rouge New York, NY

Oct 24 SoulFest Sydney, Australia

Oct 25 SoulFest Melbourne, Australia

Oct 26 SoulFest Auckland, New Zealand

Nov 04 Bird Rotterdam, Netherlands

Nov 05 Bitterzoet Amsterdam, Netherlands

Nov 06 Gruenspan Hamburg, Germany

Nov 07 So What's Next Festival Eindhoven, Netherlands

Nov 08 Kulturzentrum dasHaus Ludwigshafen Am Rhein, Germany

Nov 09 Locomotiv Bologna, Italy

Nov 10 Monk Club Rome, Italy

Nov 11 Tunnel Club Milano, Italy

Nov 13 The Lantern Bristol, United Kingdom

Nov 14 Barbican Theatre London, United Kingdom

Nov 15 Le Trabendo Paris, France

Nov 16 AB Club Brussels, Belgium

Nov 17 Club Bahnhof Ehrenfeld Cologne, Germany

Nov 18 Unterfahrt Munich, Germany

Nov 21 Le Guess Who Festival Utrecht, Netherlands

Nov 22 Neue Heimat Berlin, Germany

Nov 23 DR Koncerthuset København S, Denmark

Nov 24 Nasjonal Jazzscene Oslo, Norway

Nov 25 Fasching Stockholm, Sweden

Nov 26 Nefertiti Gothenburg, Sweden

Nov 27 Folken Stavanger, Norway

Nov 28 Verftet Bergen, Norway

Nov 30 THE CIRCUS Helsinki, Finland

Dec 10 Club Nokia Los Angeles, CA



Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.

Books

John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.

Music

Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.

Music

Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.

Books

Murder Is Most Factorial in 'Eighth Detective'

Mathematician Alex Pavesi's debut novel, The Eighth Detective, posits mathematical rules defining 'detective fiction'.

Music

Eyedress Sets Emotions Against Shoegaze Backdrops on 'Let's Skip to the Wedding'

Eyedress' Let's Skip to the Wedding is a jaggedly dreamy assemblage of sounds that's both temporally compact and imaginatively expansive, all wrapped in vintage shoegaze ephemera.

Film

Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.

Television

Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Music

The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.

Music

The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.

Music

Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.

Music

​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

Music

John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.