Album of the Week: Kamasi Washington

Heaven and Earth Out Now via Young Turks

Jun 22, 2018 Bookmark and Share


There is an interesting debate going on within the Jazz world about Kamasi Washington, the current crossover wunderkind who is achieving major attention from more traditionally "indie-rock" crowds. On the one hand, from his work with Kendrick Lamar and the Brainfeeder label, he is bringing a wider audience to jazz, a genre that has historically gone misunderstood or mistrusted. On the other, jazz fans, for their sins, have a tendency to be extremely protective over "their genre" and see Washington's success as something that has emerged from outsider, "hipster," influences at the expense of talented jazz musicians who have been plugging away in the scene for years without breaking out.

Regardless of how he has got there, it shouldn't come as a surprise that in the space of three years Washington has become the massive success he has, given his clear supreme talent both as a player and composer. 2015's The Epic put him on the map, while last year's EP Harmony of Difference consolidated his place there. Now we have Heaven & Earth, which, while it doesn't quite hit the three-disc, three-hour mark of his previous Epic, his latest is a double album of two and a half hours running time, so not far off.

Whereas The Epic was a something of a space opera, Heaven & Earth brings things down to a humane, spiritual level. Each side's openers, "Fists of Fury" and "The Space Traveler's Lullaby" respectively, are the most immediate tracks here to draw one into the huge undertaking this double record is, but these are excellent entries into these explorations of life and the afterlife.

Kamasi Washington Tour Dates:

June 23 - Pasadena, CA - Arroyo Seco
June 24 - Vancouver, BC - Queen Elizabeth Theatre
June 25 - Saskatoon, SK - Saskatchewan Jazz Festival
June 29 - Waitsfield, VT - Friendly Gathering
June 30 - Montreal, Quebec - Festival International de Jazz de Montreal
July 12 - Berkeley, CA - Greek Theater‡
July 25 - Detroit, MI - Chene Park Amphitheater
August 4 - Dublin, Ireland - Beatyard Festival
August 5 - Oxfordshire, U.K. - Wilderness Festival
August 7 - Mainz, Germany - Frankfurter Hof Mainz @ Zitadelle Mainz
August 9 - Antwerp, Belgium - Jazz Middelheim
August 10 - Copenhagen, Denmark - HAVEN
August 11 - Gothenburg, Sweden - Way Out West
August 12 - Helsinki, Finland - FLOW
August 17-19 - Tokyo, Japan - Summer Sonic Festival
October 17 - Seattle, WA - The Showbox
October 18 - Portland, OR - Crystal Ballroom
October 19 - San Francisco, CA - TBA
October 20 - San Luis Obispo, CA - Fremont Theater
October 22 - Santa Fe, NM - Meow Wolf
October 24 - Salt Lake City, UT - The Complex
October 25 - Aspen, CO - Belly Up
October 26 - Denver, CO - Ogden Theatre
October 27 - Boulder, CO - Boulder Theater
October 29 - Kansas City, MO - The Truman
October 31 - Iowa City, IA - The Englert Theatre
November 1 - Minneapolis, MN - TBA
November 2 - Madison, WI - TBA
November 3 - Chicago, IL - Riviera Theatre
November 5 - Toronto, CA - Sony Centre for The Performing Arts
November 7 - Portland, ME - State Theatre
November 8 - Boston, MA - Royale
November 9 - Philadelphia, PA - Electric Factory
November 10 - Washington D.C. - Lincoln Theatre
November 14 - Richmond, VA - The National
November 15 - Raleigh, NC - The Ritz
November 16 - Nashville, TN - Marathon Music Works
November 17 - Atlanta, GA - Buckhead Theatre

*with Vulfpeck
‡with Sylvan Esso

www.kamasiwashington.com

Album of the Week Runner-up (Also Released This Week):

Gang Gang Dance: Kazuashita (4AD)

Plus these albums and EPs of note also came out this week:

Arp: Zebra (Mexican Summer)

Dumb: Seeing Green (Mint)

Nine Inch Nails: Bad Witch EP (Self-Released)

The Orb: No Sounds Are Out of Bounds (Cooking Vinyl)

The Wave Pictures: Brushes With Happiness (Moshi Moshi)

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