Friday, 22 June 2018

Kamasi Washington - Heaven & Earth, album review

Eclectic Journey

I am new and late to Kamasi Washington, and am enjoying the double album introduction of his latest and lauded Heaven and Earth.

It is eclectic and most listenable – I guess this latter meaning it has those pop sensibilities certain jazz purists might not like: there isn’t the complexity and dissonance and scratch and experimentation and so on of one solar system of jazz.

Washington is clearly an accomplished player, expressive in a forthright way rather than in subtleties – though perhaps I simply haven’t come across that yet. He is soulful, hip hop, orchestral and certainly filmscoreish, especially the rousing choric accompaniments to various songs like Street Fighter Mas.

He likes voice enhancers and alterers and all kinds of gimmicky sounds, and quite often threads these through standard jazz platforms, like Song for the Fallen which has just come out of some of those playful noises to cinematic mode as I listen, then returning to the sax melody like a Standard we should all know.

Graced with a host of great players, this is an expansive album of melodic-with-angles jazz that has clearly garnered a wide appeal and plaudits and those again might irk those who like it kept esoteric. I like a bit of esoterica. I like this, loads.

Ah, and there’s a gentler, subtler tone and gentility – Journey now playing with its sweet vocal [and there is much singing across all the songs] and the jazzy circus organ.

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