The jazz saxophonist and Kendrick Lamar collaborator talks about his past year in the spotlight. Washington is a magnet — whether it’s his stature or his playing, you can’t help but notice him.
Alabama Shakes and Kamasi Washington are among the leading nominees for this year's 5th Annual Libera Awards, a celebration of the independent music scene that caps A2IM's Indie Week conference held this summer in New York City. The Libera Awards will be held at Manhattan Center's Grand Ballroom in NYC on June 16.
Kamasi Washington was a guest on "Charlie Rose" last week. In addition to performing "Re Run" and "The Rhythm Changes" from The Epic with his band the Next Step, he sat down for a chat with Rose. He talked about why Kendrick Lamar is "the John Coltrane of hip-hop" and "a pure artist," growing up in Inglewood, his friendship with his band, the state of jazz, the art of songwriting, and more.
Jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington is a central figure in the Los Angeles jazz scene. He’s toured for over a decade with artists like Herbie Hancock, Lauryn Hill, and Snoop Dogg. He collaborated on Kendrick Lamar's classic "To Pimp A Butterfly". And only months later, Kamasi released his own highly-acclaimed, three-disc record "The Epic"
For a minute there Kamasi Washington was The Guy Who Played Saxophone and Created the Jazz Arrangements on the Kendrick Record, but it didn’t take long for his astonishing album The Epic to develop a life of its own.
After growing up in Los Angeles and working as a touring musician for the likes of Snoop Dogg, Lauren Hill and Raphael Saadiq, the 34-year-old saxophonist, bandleader and composer earned his first major recognition for his musical contributions to Kendrick Lamar’s massively hailed To Pimp A Butterfly.
As everyone who's caught his sprawling live show already knows, jazz bandleader Kamasi Washington's maximalism will not be contained, and that, ludicrous as it may sound, even a three-hour label debut broken down into three volumes titled “The Plan,” “The Glorious Tale,” and “The Historic Repetition” and given the title The Epic still ever so faintly suggests the tip of the iceberg that sunk the RMS Titanic.
The hottest ticket at this year’s EFG London Jazz Festival was Gilles Peterson’s New Jazz, New Dance event at the Barbican. Brit trio GoGo Penguin opened for Kamasi Washington, who showcased his acclaimed debut album The Epic with an eight-strong band that he's been playing with since his teens. TOM CHURCHILL caught up with the saxophonist backstage to discover more about the Los Angeles scene that spawned this unique group of players.
The saxophonist Kamasi Washington, 34, is a key figure in the Los Angeles jazz scene. As well as leading his own band, the Next Step, and collaborating with a variety of jazz musicians, he has worked with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Lauryn Hill and Chaka Khan. Washington was a distinctive presence on Kendrick Lamar’s latest album, To Pimp A Butterfly, and in May released The Epic – his wildly ambitious 172-minute debut studio album – to rave reviews.
It’s early days, but Kamasi Washington could be the biggest thing to hit jazz for years, decades even. The 34-year-old Californian saxophonist, composer, and bandleader has succeeded in making experimental improvised music that sounds both contemporary and relevant – and, crucially, attractive to younger listeners – without short-changing its essential jazziness.