The Evolution of Kamasi Washington’s Jazz Legacy


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The Genesis of “The Epic”

The Genesis of

Before Kamasi Washington unveiled his breakthrough opus, he admits, he second-guessed it. “The Epic” (2015) was a major moment, not just for the Los Angeles saxophonist and composer, but for jazz at large. Arriving on the heels of Kendrick Lamar’s seismic “To Pimp a Butterfly” — an album featuring contributions from Washington and his tight-knit hometown coterie — it contained nearly three hours’ worth of surging, spiritually charged music, spearheaded by Washington’s roaring tenor sax.

Staying True to the Vision

Despite its daunting scope and operatic grandeur, it resonated broadly, serving as a gateway to jazz and the thriving scene orbiting Washington’s label at the time, Brainfeeder. In the long interval between its recording and release, Washington toyed with the idea of trimming it down to make it more palatable. However, inspired by the boldness of “To Pimp a Butterfly,” he decided to honor his original vision, keeping “The Epic” epic.

Continuing the Legacy

In the years since “The Epic,” that principle has continued to serve Washington well. His new album out May 3, “Fearless Movement,” includes high-profile guest spots from George Clinton and André 3000. Overall, it finds Washington adhering to his longstanding vision, presenting sprawling, eclectic tracks that showcase the chemistry of his core musical crew.

A Thriving West Coast Jazz Scene

Washington and his close collaborators have helped bring a thrilling West Coast jazz scene into the spotlight. The saxophonist, now 43, remains dedicated to pushing boundaries and expanding the horizons of jazz music, all while staying true to his roots and the friends who have been with him on this musical journey since childhood.

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