17 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

The most ambitious jazz album to arrive in ages, Los Angeles saxophonist/composer Kamasi Washington's debut clocks in at 174 minutes—with never a dull moment. While his flawless 10-piece band already packs a wallop, thanks to their doubled basses and drums, Washington embellishes them with a string section and angelic choir. Like his luminous playing on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, Washington solos with power and grace here. Versions of "Cherokee" and Terence Blanchard's "Malcolm's Theme" nod to jazz tradition, but it's originals like "Change of the Guard" that signal his truly epic aspirations.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The most ambitious jazz album to arrive in ages, Los Angeles saxophonist/composer Kamasi Washington's debut clocks in at 174 minutes—with never a dull moment. While his flawless 10-piece band already packs a wallop, thanks to their doubled basses and drums, Washington embellishes them with a string section and angelic choir. Like his luminous playing on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, Washington solos with power and grace here. Versions of "Cherokee" and Terence Blanchard's "Malcolm's Theme" nod to jazz tradition, but it's originals like "Change of the Guard" that signal his truly epic aspirations.

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Customer Reviews

5 out of 5

186 Ratings

The Epic is EPIC!!!!!

Prof. Johnson,

New music that is really NEW. Jazz is not dead. It is alive and well. Live musicianship and song writing is alive and well. Los Angeles has so many hidden local music treasures. Kamasi Washington and the players on this project are prime examples of them though you’ve seen and heard them play with other groups in other genres all around the world. The legacy of West Coast jazz and Gerald Wilson’s arranging legacy is in tact and going full steam ahead. The beauty of the city and depth of young musicians runs all through this three album project. THREE!?!?! WHO DOES THAT!??! Greatness does that. Masterfully put together, each song going one into the other. There is NO skipping around here. It’s like being at a live jazz show but it is in your stereo or headphones. CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS to spare here. Do yourself a favor and get this….ASAP.

Time Travel. ...

Iamjoytwice,

It was, John Coltrane, 70's Saturday morning cartoons and Star Trek (to be exact).
It was, Grover Washington Jr., Love Unlimited Orchestra, Blue Magic, The Stylistics and Debussy.
It was Alvin Alley, Pearl Bailey and even The King and I on Broadway baby!
I heard Linus and Lucy, NO, it was Leroy and Lanisha, my God what was this man doing to me? It was the gospel or should I say the GodSpell that could not be denied, lain down by none other than Kamasi Washington. It took me back to a sunny Summer day, on a cold concrete stoop when I was only 6 years old, chewing red shoelace candy and smelling the Niagra spray starch blow through the curtains from inside the house where my mother pressed the families clothes to the best of the best Jazz.
I wanted to laugh, I wanted to cry, the music touched me so deep I could not tell a lie. This man was for real and for real was the deal as I walked, cooked, ate and relaxed in tears of joy to all 17 tracks on Kamasi Washington's The Epic.
Nothing like a genius, his lips and fingertips caressing the soul of a woman.
I wanted to moan, I wanted to hum, I wanted to come —into Space and Time but I could not quite figure the emotion I was feeling. When I couldn't tell if I were in agony or experiencing utter joy, I knew it was ecstasy, Christmas In May.
I heard him say: "Woman are you calling me a fraud?"
I said no love I'm calling you a genius,
so pure, so sweet, play it for me baby. ...

About Kamasi Washington

Kamasi Washington didn't pick up a saxophone until he was 13 years old, but by that point, he'd been playing several other instruments. That's when he found his calling. Within a couple years, he was the lead tenor saxophonist at Hamilton High School Music Academy in his native Los Angeles. After graduation, he attended UCLA to study ethnomusicology. While enrolled at UCLA, he recorded a self-titled album with Young Jazz Giants, a quartet he had formed with Cameron Graves and brothers Ronald Bruner, Jr. and Stephen "Thundercat" Bruner, released in 2004.

From that point on, Washington continually performed and recorded with an impressive variety of major artists across several genres, including Snoop Dogg, Raphael Saadiq, Gerald Wilson, McCoy Tyner, George Duke, and PJ Morton. He self-released a handful of his own albums from 2005 through 2008 while also performing and recording as one-third of Throttle Elevator Music. In 2014 alone, Washington demonstrated tremendous range with appearances on Broken Bells' After the Disco, Harvey Mason's Chameleon, Stanley Clarke's Up, and Flying Lotus' You're Dead!, among other albums that covered indie rock, contemporary and progressive jazz, and experimental electronic music.

The following year, Washington contributed to Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly and released The Epic on Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder label. An expansive triple album nearly three hours in duration, it involved the other three-fourths of Young Jazz Giants -- by then part of his larger collective, alternately known as the Next Step and West Coast Get Down -- and a string orchestra and choir conducted by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. A critical and commercial success, The Epic landed at number three on Billboard's jazz chart. Washington toured the U.S., played dates in Europe and Japan, and continued session work with contributions to albums by Terrace Martin, Carlos Niño, John Legend, Run the Jewels, and Thundercat. ~ Andy Kellman

  • ORIGIN
    Los Angeles, CA
  • BORN
    1981

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