Music review: Kamasi Washington, QMU, Glasgow

Surely nobody has done more in recent years to bring jazz to a new young audience than Kamasi Washington. It was through his work with Kendrick Lamar that the Californian saxophonist, composer, producer and bandleader's name first started to ring out. But those who came to Washington for his associations with the world's most on-point rapper have stayed for his complex-yet-accessible, funky, cosmic, physical and spiritual music. At the front of a mighty seven-piece ensemble featuring two drummers and his dad Rickey Washington on soprano sax, Kamasi is the righteous dude in a dashiki preaching peace, love and understanding in perfect harmony with the gospel of jazz.

Kamasi Washington PIC: (Michelle V. Agins/NYT)
Kamasi Washington PIC: (Michelle V. Agins/NYT)

Kamasi Washington, QMU, Glasgow ****

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“Diversity is not something to be tolerated, it’s something to be celebrated,” Washington said while introducing a song called Truth, which featured five different melodies played all at once as a metaphor for how beautiful diversity can be. It was one of just six numbers performed during a 90-minute set which together surveyed jazz’s centrality to all of American music and proved how it is far from the faded genre many people presume it to be.

Cinematic star-gazing jam The Space Travellers Lullaby and the Curtis Mayfield-esque funk of Fist of Fury – which riffed on the theme to the Bruce Lee’s movie of the same name – trailed what promises to be an epic new album called Heaven and Earth. Voiced by sashaying singer Patrice Quinn, closer The Rhythm Changes was a tones and timbres exploring snaking, quaking, breathtaking carnival for the senses.