Kamasi Washington

The story begins with a man on high. He is an old man, a warrior, and the guardian to the gates of a city. Two miles below his mountainous perch, he observes a dojo, where a group of young men train night and day. Eventually, the old man expects a challenger to emerge. He hopes for the day of his destruction, for this is the cycle of life.

Finally the doors fly open and three young men burst forth to challenge the old master. The first man is quick, but not strong enough. The second is quick, and strong, but not wise enough. The third stands tall, and overtakes the master. The changing of the guard has at long last been achieved.

But then the old man wakes up. He looks down at the dojo and realizes he’s been daydreaming. The dojo below exists, but everyone in training is yet a child. By the time they grow old enough to challenge the old man, he has disappeared.

This is, in essence, a true story and a carefully constructed musical daydream, one that will further unfold on May 5, 2015 in a brazen release from young Los Angeles jazz giant, composer, bandleader, and saxophonist Kamasi Washington. The Epic is unlike anything jazz has seen, and not just because it emanates from the boundary-defying Brainfeeder, which isn’t so much a label in the traditional sense as it is an unfurling experiment conducted by the underground producer Flying Lotus, who features Washington on his recent releases Cosmogramma and You’re Dead!.

“He just plays the craziest shit, man. I mean, everything — the past, present, the future,” Flying Lotus says, whose family lineage includes one of Washington’s director musical forbearers, John Coltrane. “It’s hard to find unique voices in this music. Especially in jazz, more so lately, everybody is trying to do the same shit. I don’t want to hear ‘My Favorite Things’ anymore. What I am hearing is a leader among artists.”

The Epic is a 172-minute, three-record set that includes a 32-piece orchestra, a 20-person choir, and 17 songs overlaid with a compositional score written by Washington. Pulsing underneath is an otherworldly ten-piece band, each member of which is individually regarded as among the best young musicians on the planet – including bassist Thundercat and his brother, drummer Ronald Bruner Jr., bassist (yes, there are two) Miles Mosley, drummer Tony Austin (of course there are two), keyboard player Brandon Coleman, pianist Cameron Graves, and trombonist Ryan Porter. Patrice Quinn’s ethereal vocals round out the ensemble.

The band are all from Los Angeles, mostly South Central, and its members – who call themselves variously “The Next Step” and the “The West Coast Get Down” – have been congregating since they were barely teenagers in a backyard shack in Inglewood. Washington, 32, has known Bruner since he was two. The rest met, at various stages, by the time they were in high school. The hours they have put into the music, playing together and practicing alone, total cumulatively in the tens of thousands.

“Nothing compares to these guys,” says Barbara Sealy, the former West Coast director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, who has championed Washington and his compatriots since they were barely teenagers. “Nobody. I challenge any group to go out on stage with them and see if they can keep up with it…Kamasi is at the top of his game, and only getting better.”

And the story The Epic tells, without words but rather through some combination of magic, mastery, and sheer force of imagination, is the story of Kamasi Washington, the Next Step, and their collective mission: to remove jazz from the shelf of relics and make it new, unexpected, and dangerous again. They seek to both honor and alter tradition: as The Epic’s opening track announces, they are the “Changing of the Guard.” The sound can be felt like flames, sometimes waving in the coziness of a fireplace, in other moments sweeping everything around like a backdraft. But Washington is always in control of the burning.

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2017 Detroit Jazz Festival Artist Lineup Delivers Iconic Musicians, Special Collaborations

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Kamasi Washington Set to Perform Music from Critically Acclaimed Debut Album The Epic – Thursday, December 10 at Club Nokia

Kamasi Washington Set to Perform Music from Critically Acclaimed Debut Album The Epic – Thursday, December 10 at Club Nokia  Homecoming Performance to Feature Full Choir and String Section Kamasi Washington / saxophonePatrice Quinn / vocalsRyan Porter / trombone Dontae Winslow / trumpet Brandon Coleman / keyboards Cameron Graves / piano Thundercat …
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AVAILABLE TOMORROW via Brainfeeder: Kamasi Washington Releases “The Epic” as Deluxe Three-LP Set

AVAILABLE TOMORROW via Brainfeeder: Kamasi Washington Releases  The Epic as Deluxe Three-LP Set Available for Purchase at Brainfeeder, Amazon, Bandcamp, and KamasiWashington.com “…this saxophonist-composer is unusually well poised to secure the attention of listeners who have previously been uninterested in jazz.” – Pitchfork “In a millennium largely absent of anything new or captivating in …
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Kamasi Washington Releases “The Epic” as Deluxe Three-LP Set – Available October 2 via Brainfeeder

Kamasi Washington Releases The Epic as Deluxe Three-LP Set – Available October 2 via Brainfeeder Available for Pre-Order at Brainfeeder.net/KamasiWashington, Available for Purchase at Brainfeeder, Amazon, Bandcamp, and KamasiWashington.com “…this saxophonist-composer is unusually well poised to secure the attention of listeners who have previously been uninterested in jazz.” – Pitchfork “In a millennium largely …
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Available Now via Brainfeeder: Saxophonist Kamasi Washington Revolutionizes Modern Perception of Jazz with Highly Anticipated 3-Volume Set, “The Epic”

  Available Now via Brainfeeder: Saxophonist Kamasi Washington Revolutionizes Modern Perception of Jazz with Highly Anticipated 3-Volume Set, The Epic The Epic Debuts at #2 on iTunes Jazz Charts   Photo Credit: Mike Park     “…a mission to remake the word “jazz” in the image of their own generation. That’s the …
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NPR Music’s 25 Favorite Albums Of 2015 (So Far)

Rolling Stone’s 45 Best Albums of 2015 So Far

Complex’s Best Albums of 2015 (So Far)

LA Times Essential albums of 2015

Mass Appeal’s Best Albums of 2015 (So Far)

“The Los Angeles saxophonist is the most audacious player in a movement making the electric flurry of Seventies fusion jazz cool again: His lush, bustling arrangements can be heard on both Flying Lotus’ You’re Dead and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly.” – Rolling Stone

“(Kamasi Washington) is unusually well poised to secure the attention of listeners who have previously been uninterested in jazz.” – Seth Colter Walls, Pitchfork

“…have set themselves up as the next significant chapter in Los Angeles jazz…” – NY Times

“Even if you don’t know anything about jazz, it’s quite possible you’ve heard the music of saxophonist Kamasi Washington.” – NPR All Songs +1

“The idea is simple: Listen to more jazz. And if you heed that advice, you need to listen to more Kamasi Washington, the South Central– and Inglewood-raised saxophonist who might have made the best modern jazz record of the year.” – Jeff Weiss, LA Weekly

“There is a sense that Kamasi is acting as a musical conduit where he allows the spirits of past masters to flow through him to create a new breed of Jazz that’s rooted here on Earth but has one eye on the stratosphere.” – Simon Tucker, Louder Than War

“They execute these ideas with such bigness, and such a wide color palette, and a mission to remake the word “jazz” in the image of their own generation. That’s the feat here. You wouldn’t be wrong to call that ambition epic.” – Patrick Jarenwattananon, NPR First Listen

“Kamasi’s in a world of his own” – Gerald Wilson, LA Times

“His gorgeous debut opus, The Epic, is 173 minutes of virtuosic playing…” – Rolling Stone

“When Kamasi Washington called his new album The Epic, he meant it.” – NPR All Things Considered

“In a millennium largely absent of anything new or captivating in the jazz idiom, Washington has just unleashed a musical hydra grounded in respect and intimate knowledge of the past and striking far out into a hopeful future.” – Chris Hoard, Variety

“Mr. Washington’s playing spread through the group into a sustained volcanic surge…” – Ben Ratliff, NY Times


  • “The Epic” – Album Cover
  • pdf
    Kamasi Washington – Career Bio
  • pdf
    “The Epic” – Album Bio

  • Kamasi Washington 1 – Photo Credit Mike Park

  • Kamasi Washington 2 – Photo Credit Mike Park

  • Kamasi Washington 3 – Photo Credit Mike Park

  • Kamasi Washington 4 – Photo Credit Mike Park

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