Kamasi Washington Profiled

Source: Seven Days.

Enter Kamasi Washington. The saxophonist, composer and bandleader is being hailed by aficionados and neophytes alike as a bold new voice in jazz — and, in certain quarters, an outright savior of the genre. Washington and his band, the Next Step, headline the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival on Wednesday, June 7, at the Flynn MainStage in Burlington.

“For a long time, I wondered if anyone would come along who could really connect with this next generation,” says John Gennari, a University of Vermont associate professor of English, jazz scholar and author. In his view, Washington is “a serious musician” who has the “kind of magnetism and charisma and cultural-political ambitiousness and presence” to do the job.

Washington burst onto the scene in 2015 as if from nowhere. Though the 36-year-old has been playing music his entire life, only in the last two years has he become a household name — or as close to one as a jazz musician can be in the 21st century. As UK website the Independent pointed out, his debut album, The Epic, sold more than 70,000 copies in its first six months. That’s a rare feat for a modern jazz record.