Music review: Kamasi Washington, Barrowland, Glasgow

Washington's sax was at the heart of the performance
Washington's sax was at the heart of the performance
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A JAZZ group filling the room has not been common currency in this old dancehall since the heyday of Barrowland house band Billy McGregor & the Gaybirds and guest appearances from the likes of Johnny Dankworth and Dizzy Gillespie. But those gatekeepers of groove could only have looked on in approval as repeat visitors and new converts alike converged on the ballroom floor to hail a dance band of a more cosmic hue. Forget sequence dancing – the appropriate response was to follow ecstatic vocalist Patrice Quinn on her magic carpet ride through the devotional frenzy of Will You Sing and the satisfying cosmic funk and conscious message of Fists Of Fury.

Kamasi Washington, Barrowland, Glasgow ****

Saxophonist Kamasi Washington has introduced a new audience to jazz not through any radical modernisation programme but with the sheer joyful accessibility of his blend of spiritual jazz, soul, funk and Afrobeat. That said, this was a relatively opaque set where at least some of the pleasure lay in simply beholding the skill of his band rather than the galvanizing power of his best material.

With his trademark dual drummer action and the rock brawn in bassist Miles Mosley’s solos, that power was not to be taken lightly, not least when Mosley referenced The Stooges’ I Wanna Be Your Dog. His father Ricky Washington was a more benign presence on fleet flute during Street Fighter Mas but when the constituent parts came together in an exultant crescendo, it was Washington Jr’s soulful sax which resonated at the heart of the performance.

FIONA SHEPHERD