One of a new generation of jazz musicians deeply informed by hip-hop, R&B and other popular black music influences, saxophonist Kamasi Washington, a figure of Fijian rugby player proportions, leads a correspondingly muscular band, which rarely let up during this set at the Glasgow studio-warehouse.
Kamasi Washington, SWG3, Glasgow ***
It was gratifying to see a packed young audience for jazz, albeit doubtless drawn by the event being free, with cocktails from that unlikely jazz beverage, Drambuie, the gig’s co-promoters with NTS online radio. Washington and his band didn’t take the stage until after an hour of DJ Andrew Ashong, followed by an intriguing and at times hypnotic set from drummer and electronic mixer Moses Boyd, who swathed his powerful playing in shimmers of electronica and grungy growls.
Washington’s set finally opened with the staccato rapid fire of tenor sax and Ryan Porter’s trombone and a Seventies lick of wah-wah, driven by the ceaselessly industrious drumming of Tony Austin and Ronald Bruner Jnr, plus Patrice Quinn’s spacey, incantatory vocals, which at times vanished in the mix.
The septet was joined by Washington’s father Richey on flute and soprano sax in numbers such as Humility, which featured a chunky solo from bassist Joshua Crumbly, while Giant Feelings saw Brandon Coleman’s keyboards and processed vocals gurgling wildly.
The centrepiece was Truth, its quavery, sci-fi keyboards and Quinn’s wordless vocals drifting over leisurely funk riffing until Washington’s powerful tenor sax finally let rip in this sweeping if melodically rather repetitive anthem to “our beautiful differences”.