Kamasi Washington, Heaven and Earth

by Sylvannia Garutch

Kamasi Washington burst onto the scene with the success of his album Epic in 2015 on Brainfeeder, you could not pick up a magazine without seeing him adorn the front cover. In truth, he had been self-releasing for several years prior with Live at 5th Street Dick’s, (self-released, 2005), The Proclamation, (self-released, 2007) and Light of the World, (self-released, 2008).  Washington also has enjoyed success as a sideman with Throttle Elevator Music, the Gerald Wilson Orchestra, Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Run the Jewels and of course he can be heard on Kendrick Lamar’s, Damn.  Which seems to have recently captured a music Pulitzer.

Washington has a new album coming in June of 2018 entitled Heaven and Earth, on the Young Turks label.  A double disc that features eight selections on each disc.  Washington recorded Heaven and Earth with his band, the Next Step, as well as members of the Los Angeles collective known as the West Coast Get Down. The project’s contributors include: Thundercat, Terrace Martin, Ronald Bruner, Jr., Cameron Graves, Brandon Coleman, Miles Mosley, Patrice Quinn and Tony Austin. Heaven and Earth will also feature his new arrangement of Freddie Hubbard’s “Hubtones” and a new song by band-mate Ryan Porter.

Washington is quoted as saying on Twitter in April, “The Earth side represents the world as I see it outwardly, the world that I am a part of. The Heaven side represents the world as I see it inwardly, the world that is a part of me.”

The first single is “The Space Travelers Lullaby,” which will be the first cut on disc one.  It’s a luxurious track with spacious elongated lines and wistful strings that impassion the vocal lines being sung as the saxophone builds the track to an uplifted tension and release.  The track offers over ten minutes of expansive ideas in an almost soundtrack way.  Its beauty is singular and a look into the minds eye of Washington as expressed through his music.

The second single is off disc two “Fists of Fury,” which is a new arrangement of the theme song from the classic kung-fu movie of the same name.  This tune features what everyone has come to love and respect about Washington, unabashed searing playing and brawny lines that will knock you back and energize your soul.  Offering over 2.5 hours of music on 4x vinyl’s or 2 CDs.  If this is what Heaven and Earth looks like, sign me up!

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