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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Sheer Mag at PhilaMOCA, Kamasi Washington at Musikfest Cafe, Emmett Drueding at Kung Fu Necktie, and more…

Sheer Mag | Photo by John Vettese
Sheer Mag | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Philly punk powerhouses Sheer Mag just released their kickass EP III last month, and they will be performing tonight at PhilaMOCA for the Philadelphia Student Union Fundraiser. Also playing will be Bad Canoes and Dark Thoughts. For tickets and more information, check out the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Kamasi Washington brings The Epic to life at World Cafe Live

Kamasi Washington | Photo by John Vettese
Kamasi Washington | Photo by John Vettese

Saxophonist/composer Kamasi Washington brought an 8-piece version of the West Coast Get Down to World Café Live on Thursday as part of his first east coast excursion in support of his attention-grabbing debut The Epic. Even stripped of the orchestra and choir, his band lives up to that album title. Both roof-raising showmen and envelope-pushing adventurers, Washington and company delivered on the converging promises of George Clinton’s Afro-futurist funk and the boundary-obliterating jazz reinventions of late Coltrane and electric Miles. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Kamasi Washington at World Cafe Live, Meg Baird at Johnny Brenda’s, Set and Setting at Kung Fu Necktie

Kamasi Washington | Photo by Mike Park | courtesy of the artist
Kamasi Washington | Photo by Mike Park | courtesy of the artist

Tonight, LA saxophonist and acclaimed band leader Kamasi Washington brings his aptly-titled debut LP The Epic to World Cafe Live with an eight-piece band. In an interview earlier this week with The Key’s Shaun Brady, Washington talked about breaking down the boundaries of genre:

The word ‘jazz’ and the word ‘hip-hop’ have a separation, but the music doesn’t really have that same separation. You can’t talk about hip-hop without talking about A Tribe Called Quest, and their music is inundated with jazz. You can’t talk about west coast hip-hop without talking about James Brown and Parliament.

Read the whole interview here, listen to “Miss Understanding” below and get tickets and more information on the show via the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Interview: Kamasi Washington on breaking down the boundaries of jazz with The Epic

Kamasi Washington | Photo by Mike Park | courtesy of the artist
Kamasi Washington | Photo by Mike Park | courtesy of the artist

“West Coast Jazz” means something very specific to most listeners – cool, intellectual, played by guys in short sleeves and horn-rimmed glasses whose calmer brand of hip evoked a more laid-back atmosphere than the frantic pace of New York City. It’s an image, as that description implies, that’s not only reductive but locked in the 1950s, reflecting the eclipsing effect that New York has on other areas of the jazz landscape.

With the release of The Epic, Kamasi Washington explodes that image with the force of a supernova. The saxophonist/composer’s sprawling, monumental three-disc debut is an ambitious Afro-futurist opus that swirls in elements of jazz, funk, hip-hop, electronica and soul, as well as a 32-piece orchestra and 20-person choir supplementing the adventurous sound of his core ten-piece band. That band consists of fellow members of a collective known alternately as The West Coast Get Down or The Next Step, a group of like-minded, genre-leaping artists who grew up together in the Leimert Park section of South Central Los Angeles. Their combined efforts suggest something transformational happening in the incubator of the L.A. music scene. Continue reading →

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Solange Knowles’ When I Get Home will be screened at BlackStar Film Festival

Solange’s When I Get Home film | still from video

The upcoming BlackStar Film Festival has expanded its previously announced lineup to include a screening of Solange Knowles’ When I Get Home during its closing night on August 4. The short film features music from Solange’s album by the same name and is currently available on Apple Music. BlackStar will screen an extended director’s cut of the film, featuring new scenes and musical arrangements. Continue reading →

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19 Philly concerts we’re looking forward to in summer of 2019

Tame Impala | photo by Doug Interrante for WXPN // Kamasi Washington | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN // Kacey Musgraves | photo by Heji Shin | courtesy of the artist

Summer concert season is upon us, and once again, the Philadelphia region did not disappoint. We have so many options on the calendar over the next three months that whittling it down to 19 was an incredible difficult task — and we here at The Key wholeheartedly encourage you to peruse the extensive listings in the XPN Concert Calendar for details on the shows that didn’t fit — including Nuevofest at World Cafe Live, Cayetana’s swan song at Union Transfer, Brandi Carlile and Mavis Staples at the Mann Center, and of course our own XPoNential Music Festival.

But those are all gigs you probably could have guessed we were excited about. For this list, we’ve dug a little bit deeper and gathered that aren’t as obvious at first glance. From classic Philly soul to soaring international pop, tripped-out psychedelia and forward-looking jazz, here are 19 concerts we can’t wait to see in summer of 2019. Continue reading →

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#XPN5050: 2015

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this #XPN5050, Kristen Kurtis is putting the musical spotlight on the year 2015.

In some ways, it seems strange to be celebrating such a recent period of time in our year of throwbacks, the #XPN5050. Like, wasn’t it just 2015 not all that long ago?

But take a look at a few of the albums released then, and you’ll agree. This wasn’t a year where music needed time and distance to be assimilated and appreciated in the realm of music history. This is a year of records that arrived on the scene fully formed, of instant classics. Continue reading →

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Your top 50 XPN songs of 2018

Brandi Carlile | photo by Alysse Gafkjen | courtesy of artist
Brandi Carlile | photo by Alysse Gafkjen | courtesy of artist

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. In this installment, WXPN’s listener-voted best songs of 2017.

We played songs, you listened. You voted, we listened. After tallying up the numbers and playing back the jams, we are delighted to bring you a recap of your top 50 XPN songs of 2018.

Continue reading →