Throwback Session: Kamasi Washington live on MBE (2018)

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Kamasi Washington Photo by Larry Hirshowitz

KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic is featuring throwback live sessions every Thursday. To kick off the series, we highlight Kamasi Washington's fiery session behind his critically acclaimed 2018 album Heaven and Earth.

I've always loved Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis, but when I first heard Kamasi Washington’s soaring, emotional saxophone, I knew that jazz had finally reached my generation in a way that totally made sense to me. Growing up and absorbing the music of SoCal, Kamasi brings his distinctly West Coast point of view to the jazz music he makes, incorporating hip hop, funk, and soul. 

It was a thrill when Kamasi performed at KCRW after the release of his three-album collection, The Epic, with an eight-piece ensemble.  But when Heaven and Earth was released in 2018, he came back with the entire group and it was a revelation: soaring and spiritual but still downright fun.

Kamasi talks about improvisation being an emotional conversation among instruments, and that feeling runs through every piece in the session. Heaven and Earth was my #1 album of 2018 and I still listen to it like it dropped yesterday. Kamasi claims that it's a record for the dreamers and space cadets; I guess I'm guilty as charged.

Dive into this throwback session!