My first introduction into the world of Kamasi Washington’s music ends up being one of my favorite tracks of the year (video)
This might come as a bit of shock to some of you who follow this blog, but up until this point, I knew next to nothing about Kamasi Washington. First off, his epic album The Epic still stands at a staggering $50 bucks on vinyl, which is well over my usual budget for spending on records (I usually try to stay within the $20 to $30 range). The other is that I’m guilty of judging a book by the cover and assuming that Kamasi Washington was just trying to rip off Sun Ra, a jazz legend who I have a lot of respect for what he did, but not the biggest fan of his music. But this is why I always try to give everyone their fair shake because usually my preconceived notions about an artist are totally off-base and I’ll be damned if Kamasi Washington’s “Street Fighter Mas” isn’t one of the best modern jazz songs I’ve heard this year.
Starting off on a funky, shuffle-heavy, syncopated drum beat and a stripped down Thundercat sounding bass line, the song brings in some down beat piano and some truly epic sounding choral vocals, which seems to be the chorus of the track. The verses seem to be centered around some positively brilliant, rapid fire sax and trumpet bursts before shifting back to the chorus again. It’s a fun, little melancholy, unpredictable, unique take on modern jazz and it definitely has me curious to find out what else is on that epic 4LP (!!!) new album of his. But if the rest of the album is this good, I’ll definitely plop down the cash for it.
Kamasi’s Washington’s new album Heaven and Earth is out now on Young Turks.