Music » Music Previews

Preview: Kamasi Washington at One Eyed Jacks

The genre-busting saxophonist plays One Eyed Jacks April 29 and 30

by

comment

In Damien Chazelle's mesmerizing film Whiplash, there's a poster in the main character's dorm room with a snide quote from his hero, jazz drummer Buddy Rich: "If you don't have ability you wind up playing in a rock band." On Kamasi Washington's mesmerizing album The Epic (Brainfeeder), the sax maestro makes the point more interesting, because he can: If you have all the ability in the world, why choose? With that guiding principle, Washington — the only way to get from Claude Debussy to Kendrick Lamar in two steps — winds up everywhere: with Snoop Dogg and the Snoopadelics (among his first gigs); with bassist Thundercat, aka childhood friend Stephen Bruner, the lunar pull to his tidal instrumentals; with Steven Ellison, aka the future-sent Flying Lotus, descendant of jazz royalty (Alice Coltrane was his great-aunt) and space-bending Galileo of L.A.'s no-longer-underground, everything-ties-together musical family. And, of course, with Lamar, whose To Pimp a Butterfly takes all of the above and more and spins it into a heady cloud, turning the rap and jazz worlds upside down and Washington's saxophone into a megaphone. Lamar has since been called the John Coltrane of hip-hop, but The Epic — issued just two months after Butterfly's spotlight was lit — positions Washington as both a keeper of Coltrane's flame and a docent for genre visitors lured by his impressive reach. Draining the hyperbole out of its title over three LPs, 17 tracks and 174 minutes, he slots "Clair de Lune" in between Terence Blanchard and Ray Noble and imbues his originals with the cinematic flair of collaborator Stanley Clarke. Three hours barely seem like enough. There are early and late shows on both Friday and Saturday nights. Tickets $35.

Add a comment