The Self-Evidence of Kamasi Washington

Source: Tucson Weekly.

In 2015, Kamasi Washington emerged from Los Angeles with an increasingly rare thing: a breakthrough jazz album. Following a 2014 Nielsen year-end report declaring “jazz the least-popular genre in the US,” the saxophonist managed a heroic feat, turning on young fans to cosmic jazz, igniting stalwarts, and in an age of streaming singles, garnering fawning attention for a three-volume, nearly three-hour album.

Though it was the saxophonist’s debut, The Epic carried significantly more weight than the average introductory statement. Steeped in spiritual jazz traditions of John and Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, the funky fusion of Donald Byrd and Wayne Shorter, and the free jazz explorations of Ornette Coleman, it rang out like a declaration.