If you enjoyed the corners of Flying Lotus’ music where he flirts with psychedelic jazz, now is a chance to get more, much more… The Epic, released on FlyLo’s own Brainfeeder label, is a three disc super-album orchestrated by Kamsai Washington and utilising orchestra, choir, and a band that includes bassist Thundercat. Hell of a thing.
9/10 Luke Knight Customer review, 12th November 2015
Probably the greatest Jazz album this decade.
Kamasi was a guy I was introduced at a time I was listening to heavy heavy amount of Coltrane and Albert Ayler if you dig their vibes you're going to dig Kamasi's. Howling tenor saxophones that seem to connect you with something spiritual are backed by a ten piece jazz band.
At times Kamasi uses processing and effects on his saxophone which coupled with another modern genius Thundercat on squelchy complex bass lines creates eargasm after eargasm.
When this album was called the epic they meant it this album will get you excited for the evolution of jazz, it's in that same vein as Snarky Puppy undoubtedly jazz but also with elements of modern styles.
If you want to be drowned in some jazz energy buy this album.
7/10 Mike Kavanagh Customer review, 11th November 2015
The Epic Kamasi Washington
“Kamasi Washington is a competent sax player”. All and all of course it’s music, and dependent on ones listening disposition, there is without question a great record in there somewhere.
No cost has been spared on the vinyl release, 3 hours of music, the packaging alone is epic. I had never heard of Kamasi Washington before hearing a few tracks from his CD release earlier this year, but as a vinyl nut I waited for the wax release. The music is inspired by Kamasi’s dream of a Guard guarding a mountain gate. But it could mean “Extremely awesome” in street slang, (that cover photo reminds me of my favorite, Phineas) yeah enough about the big sellers.
Side 1 lifts off with “The changing of the guard” which reminds me of “Where no man has gone before” Star Trek but with a classy Igmar Thomas on trumpet a nice solo, track 2 is Isabella, Kamasi shows tone but the organ steals the track. Final thought is 40’s big band with Coleman playing Brian Auger riffs on that B3 ? and Kamasi imitating who knows. Side 2 the next step starts for me too slow,, again that Star Trek vibe even before that choir blings, you can hear where this is going wow,, on to Askim and the bass solo starts nice again that tenor tone is sweet but the intensity has no direction no weight.
The Glorious Tale
Side 1 The Rhythm Changes,, Patrice has a great voice pretentious lyrics not my cup of tea, mediocre Re Run are piano riffs and classical inspired sax solo’s wow.
Side 2 Miss Understanding what a great title again it’s Igmar who sounds like Dizzy here and he’s followed by kamasi, if he’s trying to play Coltrane he’s to jumpy, at this point all I can say is try stimulants,, slow down and,,and he must have listened because this one runs out nice and creamy.
It keeps on grooving thought Henrietta and seven prayers with Graves on trumpet and Miles holding it all together on Acoustic bass cool. I got lost on Cherokee.
The Historic Repetition
Side 1 A gusty sax slaps over Thundercats driving electric bass then spaces off to Shaft in Space a fusion jazz rock I think the ivories and bass steal this one again.
Re Run Home starts promising into a swing step reminiscent of the Headhunter’s and winds down with nice stereo drums, Leon Mobely playing like Carabello at Woodstock I really like this track Kamasi seems to get right into his own sax playing.
Side 2 Malcolms theme is Chicago 70’s black underground revolution music with a Malcolm X recording of his Islam piece. Clair de Lune is I suppose a wind down Dubussy piece. The Message is uplifting Bruners electric bass solo it’s a jaunty ride again the stereo skins Kamasi is superfly on the scales his solo is great his best in my opinion, Coltrane notes in there.
Why do I compare Washington with some of the jazz greats,, who the f..k knows man, he is definitely not a 3 chord blues head, but he’s not near a bad boy yet. I’ll be waiting to see what he does next
9/10 George Customer review, 3rd May 2015
Following in the traditions established by the likes of Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler and John Coltrane, 34-year-old Jazz tenor saxophonist, composer and band leader Kamasi Washington releases his debut LP, entitled 'The Epic'. Clocking in at nearly three hours in length, the title of this triple CD is as apt as it is ambitious. Born in Los Angeles to musical parents, Washington was raised in California. After enrolling in the Department of Ethnomusicology at UCLA, Washington was introduced to many faculty members and spent many hours playing with Jazz greats, such as trumpet player and pianist Gerald Wilson, guitarist Kenny Burrell and drummer Billy Higgins. The list of musicians who have since been blessed with his musicianship is a diverse one, consisting of Nas, Herbie Hancock, Snoop Dogg, George Duke and Chaka Khan, to name but a handful. Indeed, it seems fair to say that Kamasi Washington is a player you have heard, but not heard of. He features on the latest "instant classic" from Kendrick Lamar, 'To Pimp A Butterfly', and also appears on one of the most exciting and experimental albums of 2014, 'You're Dead!' by Flying Lotus. Purely based on his extensive and impressive back catalogue, the hype that this record has received prior to its release is certainly understandable.
The length of this album is not the only thing 'epic' about it. Alongside Washington on this album is a 10-piece Jazz band (The West Coast Get Down), a 20-member choir and 32-piece orchestra. With such a huge team backing him up and such credible experience, it seems that Washington has acquired the formula for making a perfect Jazz album. However, it seems as though he is striving for more than just that. This album experiments with different sounds, with climactic dynamics, with fluid rhythmic crosscurrents, with smooth grooves, with visceral and forceful melodies. Despite the black-and-white cover, this album is as colourful as music gets, and certainly as 'out-there' as the space backdrop would imply. The long tracks on this album range from frantic and agitated (à la 'Miss Understanding') to relaxed and mellow (à la 'The Rhythm Changes', which features a beautiful female vocal accompaniment). It would certainly be a shame for this album to go unnoticed outside the Jazz world; Washington provides nourishment for people of all musical cravings. Some of the beats on this album, despite often conforming to Jazz and Bebop traditions, seem to draw inspiration from some softer variants of Rock, while the lush and meticulous arrangement-styles live up to the standards of the best of Contemporary Classical music. Other genres seep through on this album, such as Gospel on 'Final Thought' and Trip Hop on 'Henrietta Our Hero'.
This record will most likely (and perhaps deservingly) go down as another "instant classic". Regardless of your feelings towards that phrase, this album is certainly a compelling contender for such a title.
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