NEWS: Kamasi Washington @ Sage Gateshead | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Unless you’ve been living on a remote Amazonian plateau for the last year or so, you’ll know two things: jazz is back in a BIG way, and Kamasi Washington is one BAD MOTHERF***ER on the sax.

At the age of just 38, the ever-mercurial bandleader and composer has managed to generate more excitement than any other jazz tenor player in almost a generation – thanks in no small part to an ambitiously conceived sound that’s just as steeped in tradition as it is fiercely progressive.

Drawing from an eclectic range of influences, Washington somehow effortlessly rolls the rhythmic proficiency of Rakim, technical wizardry of Sonny Rollins and boundary shattering ethos of Sun Ra into finely packaged ethereal arrangements – case in point, his blisteringly ferocious Fist of Fury rework.

Not for nothing then did the UCLA graduate and lifelong Angeleno – who has also lent his exceptional talents to some of the most lauded albums in recent memory (most notably, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly) – title his 2015 solo debut The Epic, or pointedly call its opening track Change of the Guard.

Having most recently garnered universal acclaim for his sophomore effort, Heaven And Earth, and already ranked amongst such greats as Joe Henderson and Ben Webster, Washington looks set to propel jazz to heights even bolder than those esteemed predecessors could have ever imagined. And he’s only just getting started. Witness him in all his glory at Sage Gateshead on Tuesday, 21st May.


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