Our point blank view is that Kamasi Washington is the most engaging, inspirational, spiritual and talented saxophonist of the last 50 years! Yes, we have other favorites but Kamasi is the man with the message. Flat out, his shows are not to be missed and are truly experiential, from the sound to the sights to the positive vibes. And, he’s been that way since he splashed onto the scene just over 3 years ago with his initial release, having the conviction to come out with a three-CD set for his debut AND calling it “The Epic.” It immediately established him as “the man” — the future of jazz.
He has since followed up with Harmony of Difference in 2017 and Heaven and Earth in 2018. Going to a Kamasi show is such an uplifting experience and his message is conveyed in everything he does from the way he carries himself with dignity, to the love and respect he shows his bandmates to his lyrics and his interaction with the audience. For one of his songs, Truth, I believe, he has often noted that “we are more similar than difference and the difference is what makes each of us special.” Another mantra recited, which the audience was totally in sync with is that “Diversity is not something to be tolerated, but celebrated.”
So what makes a Kamasi show so great? Each song is a masterpiece and could be a score for a movie. Each player is as strong as the next and each has an opportunity to flex during their solos. The two drummers, Ronald Bruner, Jr. and Tony Austin, have an opportunity to duel during a “conversation” they have. Miles Mosley on upright bass took a couple of turns, one was straight up funk, with fingering on the bass that defied your eyes and ears. Brandon Coleman on keys can hit every genre, from classical sounding phrases to New Orleans style jazz to pure fusion delight.
And finally, Patrice Quinn on lead vocals is amazing, other worldly and beautiful. In addition to her lead singing, she chants along with the sax and trombone effectively as a third wind instrument and oh what a sound it is. On top of that, her dancing and movement throughout the show is inspiring to saw the least. Here she is taking the lead on Malcolm’s Theme.
Overall, the crew wins over fans and keeps getting better each time. Even some friends that were either unfamiliar with Kamasi before the show or not too plugged into the “jazz” world and didn’t know what to expect were blown away by the overall brilliance of this crew. You can bet that we’ll be in the audience every chance we get when he rolls into town. Here’s the finale, Fists of Fury, which wowed the crowd and was a great capper for the program.