Kamasi Washington: The Epic

27 Dec

Kamasi Mike

I’m just so happy that this album exists. A jazz album in 2015 that is so deeply in love with the post-bebop era of jazz is an unexpected treat. Getting one of this quality just seems unfair.

Above everything else, Kamasi Washington plays a mean sax. Listen to just how impassioned “Final Thought” is and you could be forgiven for thinking that you were back in one of the peak eras of jazz. Similarly, “Change of the Guard” evokes Coltrane with his classic quartet. This is no throwback album though. Ideas enter it from all over the place, both within the history of jazz and without. This is an epic of an album at just under 3 hours and it makes good use of all of it.

It is at its best when it relaxes into hard bop though. The rhythm section lays down backing that manages to be intricate without overpowering the rest of the sound and their solos are fantastic. The bass solo on “The Magnificent 7” and the piano on “Leroy and Lanisha” are both excellent, skillfully setting a refrain and moving everywhere in the space they contain. Similarly, the dueling horns of the energetic “Re Run Home” dance around a central conceit in the greatest of jazz traditions.

From its first moment to its final one some three hours later, The Epic is very simply a jazz classic. I highly recommend it.

@murthynikhil

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