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Watch Kamasi Washington’s new ode to an old jazz hero

Kamasi Washington | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN

Calling the work of jazz icon Kamasi Washington “earth-shattering” would simply be an understatement. His 2018 sophomore album Heaven and Earth is a masterpiece of adrenalized improvisation with roots in Afro-Latin rhythms. The series of music videos accompanying the latest album seem to be piecing together a larger narrative, one laden with political and cultural significance. His song “Hub-Tones” is a take on trumpeter Freddie Hubbard’s 1963 piece of the same name, and in its new music video, directed by Jenn Nkiru, the camera focuses on three hypnotic women dancing for a full nine minutes. Continue reading →

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Watch a cinematic video for Kamasi Washington’s gamer theme song “Street Fighter Mas”

Kamasi Washington | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN

Jazz star child and saxophonist Kamasi Washington has treated fans to an epic music video for his single “Street Fighter Mas.” As the title suggests, the song is inspired by Washington’s love of video games, specifically his childhood accomplishment as a Street Fighter champion. According to Washington, he planned on becoming a pro gamer, and wrote this song to serve as his theme song at tournaments. Continue reading →

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Firefly On The Fly: Sunday sundown with Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Lord Huron, Kamasi Washington, Warren G and more

Kendrick Lamar | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

We rolled back into Philadelphia last night around 1 a.m., sweaty and exhausted from the final and hottest day of the 2018 Firefly Music Festival. It started with hip-hop — classic West Coast g-funk originator Warren G , whose signature jams “Regulate” and “Summertime in the LBC” played perfectly in the early afternoon — and ended with hip-hop — the Pulitzer Prize winning Kendrick Lamar, whose set was gripping and participatory, if a bit phoned-in (he twice told the crowd “This is my first time here in Delaware,” despite playing Firefly previously in 2013). Continue reading →

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Firefly announces 2018 daily lineup; adds more artists incl. Kamasi Washington, Tierra Whack

firefly
Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com

Firefly Music Festival has announced its daily lineup for this year’s festival, annually hosted at The Woodlands in Dover, Delaware. The inaugural festival took place in 2012 as a 3-day festival and has continuously grown with each passing year, creating one of the biggest summer festivals on the East Coast. From the campgrounds to the festival’s main stage, Firefly is a highlight of the summer for many music fans. Continue reading →

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PHOTOS: Kamasi Washington and Sun Ra Arkestra at Union Transfer

Kamasi Washington | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN

Union Transfer was packed to the rafters Saturday night when West Coast jazz visionary Kamasi Washington headlined with his octet. Touring in support of this year’s EP Harmony of Difference, Washington got to share the stage with the Sun Ra Arkestra, the storied Philly ensemble carrying the legacy of an artist pivotal to Washington’s own musical development. Check out a gallery of photo from the show below, and read more about Washington in this interview with The Key’s Alex Smith.   Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Kamasi Washington at Union Transfer, Soraia at MilkBoy, Secret American At Johnny Brenda’s, and more

Kamasi Washington
Kamasi Washington | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Following the release of his latest EP Harmony of Difference in September, Los Angeles-based jazz master Kamasi Washington brings his saxophone-driven tunes to Union Transfer tonight. Philly’s own Sun Ra Arkestra opens the show. Read The Key’s interview with Washington here, listen to “Truth” off the new EP below and find tickets and more information on the XPN Concert Calendar.  Continue reading →

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The Power of the People: Kamasi Washington on artistic freedom and intellectual expansion

Kamasi Washington
Kamasi Washington | photo courtesy of the artist

If you listen to current jazz and its proponents, you’d think the landscape would be wrought with dark cynicism, mired in the sometimes tenuous relationship that jazz, in an attempt to stay in the millennial zeitgeist, has had to build with scenes like noise or experimental music. Scenes where a bleaker outlook is fostered at the expense of spiritual liberation.

Enter Kamasi Washington, a beacon in the modern iteration of jazz and avant garde music. He exists as a portal to another time where African dashikis and proud Nubian brothers holding spears atop wicker chairs, or black astral travelers conjuring up sounds rocking “spiritual tuning fork as headdress,” were the norm. With his band locked in with the force of a hadron collider and bursting with kaleidoscopic vision, the native Los Angeleno manages to bring together genres seamlessly with two highly acclaimed albums– 2015’s The Epic and this fall’s Harmony of Difference. While he has enough room in his heart for both Art Blakey and Grover Washington, both Wayne Shorter and George Benson, the key to this grand synthesis of sound, where orchestral moments like Epic‘s opening track “Change of the Guard” lift through the atmosphere only to descend gracefully, tapering out with an effortless cool that evokes a hungry Miles Davis, is simple: it’s in the power of the people. Continue reading →