Kamasi Washington - The Epic

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No thread dedicated to this album? My 3xLP box set just arrived today months after pre-ordering it so making do with the autorip mp3's and it really is a brilliant album.


"The Epic is a 172-minute, three-volume set that includes a 32-piece orchestra, a 20-person choir, and 17 songs overlaid with a compositional score written by Washington. Pulsing underneath is an otherworldly ten-piece band, each member of which is individually regarded as among the best young musicians on the planet – including bassist Thundercat and his brother, drummer Ronald Bruner Jr., bassist (yes, there are two) Miles Mosley, drummer Tony Austin (of course there are two), keyboard player Brandon Coleman, pianist Cameron Graves, and trombonist Ryan Porter. Patrice Quinn’s ethereal vocals round out the ensemble. The band are all from Los Angeles, mostly South Central, and its members – who call themselves variously “The Next Step” and the “The West Coast Get Down” – have been congregating since they were barely teenagers in a backyard shack in Inglewood. Washington, 32, has known Bruner since he was two. The rest met, at various stages, by the time they were in high school. The hours they have put into the music, playing together and practicing alone, total cumulatively in the tens of thousands."

Cosmic Slop, Friday, 2 October 2015 16:39 (three years ago) Permalink

i still need to check this out! something about it seems to good to be true, but i know plenty of people who have said it's the real deal.

tylerw, Friday, 2 October 2015 16:42 (three years ago) Permalink

It's a great record, and if the band comes through your town, be there.

the top man in the language department (誤訳侮辱), Friday, 2 October 2015 16:45 (three years ago) Permalink

ha i just missed them last week D:

tylerw, Friday, 2 October 2015 16:45 (three years ago) Permalink

yeah been waiting for the vinyl of this

Οὖτις, Friday, 2 October 2015 16:48 (three years ago) Permalink

I like the album a lot, live show completely blew it out of the water, kinda been hard to go back

Ma$e-en-scène (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 2 October 2015 16:52 (three years ago) Permalink

am down with this record

Haino Corrida (NickB), Friday, 2 October 2015 16:59 (three years ago) Permalink

(dunno if the black, red and gold sleeves are symbolic but they make a nice german flag there btw)

Haino Corrida (NickB), Friday, 2 October 2015 17:02 (three years ago) Permalink

this album reminds me of the 70s axelrod/adderley groove ..

i.e. its fucking brilliant.

mark e, Friday, 2 October 2015 17:27 (three years ago) Permalink

Ah crap, I see that he played Boston way back in August before I knew the album. Album is great though!

EveningStar (Sund4r), Friday, 2 October 2015 18:16 (three years ago) Permalink

love this & the Debussy cover is so pretty, didn't know there was a vinyl edition out

( X '____' )/ (zappi), Friday, 2 October 2015 18:22 (three years ago) Permalink

The thing that this reminded me of was the McCoy Tyner 'Extensions' album, but I only have a narrow frame of reference here. actually I feel pretty self-conscious that I'm praising this but I haven't actually listened to all that many contemporary jazz records since the whatever the last indie-crowd breakthrough one was, but that says more about my lazy listening habits than the music itself

Haino Corrida (NickB), Friday, 2 October 2015 18:57 (three years ago) Permalink

ha yeah, that is probably why i've yet to check this out yet -- it feels "aimed" at me in some sense (like retro soul for sun ra fans?). but if it's good it's good.

tylerw, Friday, 2 October 2015 19:04 (three years ago) Permalink

Don't hold back tyler, it is truly stunning in places

Haino Corrida (NickB), Friday, 2 October 2015 19:07 (three years ago) Permalink

nickb tells the truth.

mark e, Friday, 2 October 2015 19:41 (three years ago) Permalink

They crammed 82 minutes on a 3lp gotta be a terrible pressing

Ma$e-en-scène (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 2 October 2015 22:27 (three years ago) Permalink

I'm sorry 170 minutes! I'm not sure how that's physically possible

Ma$e-en-scène (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 2 October 2015 22:29 (three years ago) Permalink

yeah seems like 150 minutes would be pushing it... isn't 25 minutes about as much as is wise to put on one side of vinyl?

tylerw, Friday, 2 October 2015 22:32 (three years ago) Permalink


Οὖτις, Friday, 2 October 2015 22:33 (three years ago) Permalink

and even that's pushing it depending on the type of music

Οὖτις, Friday, 2 October 2015 22:33 (three years ago) Permalink

does "half speed cut" mean anything to you guys?

3 x black 180g 12" in artworked 3mm spined sleeves all housed in a rigid board outer slipcase. Half speed cut by Matt Colton at Alchemy Mastering. Includes 2 x 12" poster inserts featuring exclusive artwork by KC Woolf Haxton and story adaptation and calligraphy by Kenturah Davis. MP3 download code also enclosed.

I have no idea about technical stuff but my 3xLP sounds absolutely fine

Cosmic Slop, Friday, 2 October 2015 23:13 (three years ago) Permalink

This is my favourite album of 2015 so far. Seeing him in London in a few weeks, for his first UK show. If it's anything like the NPR YouTube of his album launch gig, I may explode with joy.

mike t-diva, Friday, 2 October 2015 23:26 (three years ago) Permalink

mike this is the first time you & i ever agreed on anything musically I think ;)

Cosmic Slop, Friday, 2 October 2015 23:30 (three years ago) Permalink

Ok I'm listening to this RIGHT NOW. I like it.

tylerw, Friday, 2 October 2015 23:33 (three years ago) Permalink

It's definitely my album of the year even if I am one of those who doesnt listen to much jazz after the 1970s

Cosmic Slop, Friday, 2 October 2015 23:34 (three years ago) Permalink

it is a pretty impressive album, aptly titled for sure imo, just very cool that someone put out an album full of this much ambition and with such a large scope, and to have it received so positively especially for a contemporary jazz album. i have to admit i haven't really absorbed the entire thing enough to get a sense of it, 170 minutes is so much music! i've probably only played the whole thing once, though particular pieces of it more than that.

interesting to hear about the 3-lp set, curious to hear whether or not they pull it off in terms of sound quality. i think i maybe mentioned it on the jazz thread but this is an incredibly dense album musically -- i mean a 10-piece jazz band, 20-person choir, 32-piece orchestra -- that is a lot of sonic information to convey in a recording especially one informed by the chaos of free jazz and ime this album really showed the limits of my modest stereo. i didn't even bother playing it on my car stereo beyond a track or two, it was just too dense and i felt like i was missing a LOT of what was happening. i mean i feel the same way about ascension, that's not for the car or my ipod, but that was recorded beautifully and also it is only what a double quartet?

marcos, Friday, 2 October 2015 23:44 (three years ago) Permalink

Def my album of the year too

Whiney G. Weingarten, Saturday, 3 October 2015 00:39 (three years ago) Permalink

Can someone report back definitively on the vinyl pressing? I have this on hold at the store here and don't wanna drop $40 if it sounds worse than the CD I already have. Sure does look awesome though

Wimmels, Saturday, 3 October 2015 01:31 (three years ago) Permalink

Ive not heard the CD but its fine to me, but I appreciate my ears aren't one to trust

Cosmic Slop, Saturday, 3 October 2015 01:33 (three years ago) Permalink

I agree it's initially a lot to process. I ended up working backwards: CD3 is perhaps the easiest to digest, so I stuck with that for a while and left CD1 to last. I also streamed "Re Run Home" and "Miss Understanding" over and over again until they became familiar, later doing the same for "Changing of the Guard" and "Askim". Hacking off little chunks and chewing on them, basically.

mike t-diva, Saturday, 3 October 2015 08:24 (three years ago) Permalink

Cosmic Slop, have you also heard the album he's put out this year with Throtlle Elevator Music? Jazz sax over rock/punk/thrash, if you will. I also love "Them Changes", his track with Thundercat.

mike t-diva, Saturday, 3 October 2015 08:27 (three years ago) Permalink

Awhile ago I put together a Spotify playlist of all his non-Epic material that I could round up - not just the Throttle Elevator Music albums (there are three), but the Young Jazz Giants album from about a decade ago and his sideman appearances on albums by George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Harvey Mason, etc. Here's the link.

the top man in the language department (誤訳侮辱), Saturday, 3 October 2015 09:55 (three years ago) Permalink

the organ playing on "Isabelle" is one of my favorite things ever.

Heez, Saturday, 3 October 2015 13:48 (three years ago) Permalink

Mike I havent but will now thanks to phil's link. thanks!

Cosmic Slop, Saturday, 3 October 2015 15:10 (three years ago) Permalink

i dunno about the vinyl, but i got to see him and his band up close in a tiny horse barn at Pickathon and it was life-changing, man. if you have a chance to see 'em, do so.

alpine static, Saturday, 3 October 2015 15:27 (three years ago) Permalink

Only a couple songs in and now kicking myself for not catching his show at Icehouse on Eat Street a month ago.

Norse Jung (Eric H.), Saturday, 3 October 2015 19:49 (three years ago) Permalink

Dude they were supposed to play until 12, I left at 1:30 and they were still going strong

Ma$e-en-scène (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Saturday, 3 October 2015 20:40 (three years ago) Permalink

didn't realise until reading this thread that there was a London gig imminent - sold out obv :(

pep ponk aliyev (seandalai), Saturday, 3 October 2015 21:28 (three years ago) Permalink

this album reminds me of the 70s axelrod/adderley groove ..


brimstead, Saturday, 3 October 2015 23:01 (three years ago) Permalink

yeah and parts of it remind me of New Grass and other jazz goes pop thread touchstones

pep ponk aliyev (seandalai), Sunday, 4 October 2015 00:08 (three years ago) Permalink

OK, bought the vinyl version today. If it sounds crummy I'm holding ILX responsible

Just kidding, I don't care that much, especially since the packaging looks so cool. Will report back

Wimmels, Sunday, 4 October 2015 01:01 (three years ago) Permalink

well, this is some moderately pleasant background music

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Sunday, 4 October 2015 04:26 (three years ago) Permalink

truly remarkable in how it combines total wallpaper inoffensiveness with showboat egocentrism hero auteurism. and they said it couldn't be done!

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Sunday, 4 October 2015 04:28 (three years ago) Permalink

They said it about your posts, mainly.

Norse Jung (Eric H.), Sunday, 4 October 2015 06:41 (three years ago) Permalink

yeah its also what they said about banging your mom

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Sunday, 4 October 2015 07:47 (three years ago) Permalink

well, this is some moderately pleasant background music

Lester bangs on 'a love supreme' amirite?

Haino Corrida (NickB), Sunday, 4 October 2015 07:53 (three years ago) Permalink

The emperor has no edge!

twunty fifteen (imago), Sunday, 4 October 2015 08:30 (three years ago) Permalink

I tried to listen to this the other day but I couldn't really hear it through my tmi earwax storm (ongoing) - in this state all music induces the sensation of longing

twunty fifteen (imago), Sunday, 4 October 2015 08:32 (three years ago) Permalink


fappy board (wins), Sunday, 4 October 2015 08:34 (three years ago) Permalink

imago what the hell kind of earwax problem do you have a couple visits to the doctor can't fix

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Sunday, 4 October 2015 09:32 (three years ago) Permalink

Anybody go to the Central Park show? I thought about it, but ultimately didn't.

Don Van Gorp, midwest regional VP, marketing (誤訳侮辱), Wednesday, 22 June 2016 00:01 (two years ago) Permalink

Going to see him tomorrow!

Hi! I'm twice-coloured! (Sund4r), Wednesday, 22 June 2016 00:07 (two years ago) Permalink

nine months pass...

good stuff, guy't got style

niels, Thursday, 20 April 2017 09:03 (one year ago) Permalink


niels, Thursday, 20 April 2017 09:04 (one year ago) Permalink

two months pass...

The Axelrod vibe that someone mentions upthread is very evident on Truth, I think. There's a Wrecking Crew feel to the playing; when the strings come in at about 9 min it could be a Glenn Campbell session.

mahb, Wednesday, 28 June 2017 11:28 (one year ago) Permalink

three months pass...

new "EP" Harmony of Difference is out!
Sounds great so far

though it's funny this is an EP in today's bloated mindset, it's 6 songs including a 13+ minute epic and 31 minutes, that could easily be an old jazz LP

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 29 September 2017 14:45 (one year ago) Permalink

Truth is so brilliant and epic, definitely one of my favorite tracks of the year

bodak horseman (voodoo chili), Friday, 29 September 2017 15:00 (one year ago) Permalink

yeah i really like this a lot and honestly with its brevity i could see throwing it on more often than the epic

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 29 September 2017 15:03 (one year ago) Permalink

Yeah this is a little closer to the live show, loving it

chr1sb3singer, Friday, 29 September 2017 15:05 (one year ago) Permalink

This did not get a happy review in the Graun: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/sep/28/kamasi-washington-harmony-of-difference-review

Hey Bob (Scik Mouthy), Friday, 29 September 2017 15:28 (one year ago) Permalink

I like the EP a lot; the short songs have a strong CTI/early '70s vibe to me - Hank Crawford, Stanley Turrentine, the good early Grover Washington Jr. albums, like that.

grawlix (unperson), Friday, 29 September 2017 16:04 (one year ago) Permalink

a series of vapid Kenny G numbers.

WRT to the Guardian piece, there should be a Godwin's Law for bringing up Kenny G in a jazz review IMO

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 29 September 2017 17:17 (one year ago) Permalink

like the minute you bring up Kenny G, it's a failure of writing and failure to really engage with anything or think about it, it's just an easy line

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 29 September 2017 17:18 (one year ago) Permalink


tylerw, Friday, 29 September 2017 18:14 (one year ago) Permalink

unperson: otm wrt those 70s CTI records

chr1sb3singer, Friday, 29 September 2017 18:37 (one year ago) Permalink

two months pass...

man for a spiritual hat thread this got kind of fighty

I still like The Epic but have already played Harmony of Difference more often ... I'm really looking forward to seeing him tonight

Brad C., Wednesday, 6 December 2017 18:14 (one year ago) Permalink

You won't be disappointed. I've seen him twice, and both shows were A++.

mike t-diva, Thursday, 7 December 2017 09:51 (one year ago) Permalink

Live he is so great
I'm totally with you on the new
In so many ways it just feels like a fat free distillation of what I liked about the Epic, and I think the production/engineering is way better

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 7 December 2017 13:30 (one year ago) Permalink

yes, mix is much clearer!

niels, Thursday, 7 December 2017 13:33 (one year ago) Permalink

They were excellent, of course -- with seven players + one vocalist, their sound wasn't quite as dense as on the albums, but it was hotter, funkier, and louder than I expected ... Patrice Quinn is a force of nature

Brad C., Thursday, 7 December 2017 15:48 (one year ago) Permalink

i still haven’t unwrapped my copy of “the epic”

i’m just always like ... three hours??

the late great, Thursday, 7 December 2017 16:25 (one year ago) Permalink

did they still have these guys?

both drummers, the one who looked like the weeknd and the older dude who looked like he should run a pizza by the slice place in Queens

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 7 December 2017 17:36 (one year ago) Permalink

I think I never checked out this year's album because I'm still digesting The Epic but, yeah, live show was fantastic.

No purposes. Sounds. (Sund4r), Thursday, 7 December 2017 18:19 (one year ago) Permalink

the two drummers last night were Robert Miller and Ronald Bruner Jr. ... Kamasi introduced them with lengthy, funny stories about how he'd met the former in kindergarten and the latter at a third-grade birthday party

Kamasi's father Rickey Washington played on most numbers and had one soprano sax solo that really fired up the crowd

the warm family vibe was pretty amazing

Brad C., Thursday, 7 December 2017 18:46 (one year ago) Permalink

yeah his dad was selling t-shirts at the show i was at, then jumped up on stage and played for some songs

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 7 December 2017 18:50 (one year ago) Permalink

I loved the live show I saw but was sad that the vocalist for some reason had been turned down to background levels during the last big song

FREEZE! FYI! (dog latin), Thursday, 7 December 2017 20:03 (one year ago) Permalink

I was such an epic dumbass on this thread

Was posting at a bar iirc

brimstead, Thursday, 7 December 2017 20:38 (one year ago) Permalink

I'm not a Kamasi believer. Everything is exactly in the right place but I just don't get the jouissance from it. And I wonder if that 'exactly' is the point: it's too on the money, inhabiting all the right forms without the content. Truth feels like a lesson in how to make an epic: 13-minutes of telling, not showing. Maybe seeing them live is the key. But I think even then the dashikis would make me grumpy.

The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums (Chinaski), Thursday, 7 December 2017 21:00 (one year ago) Permalink

I know that's hardly an original take and who gives a shit anyway but it's that thing when you know everything's lined up for you to love something and for some reason it leaves you blank and that's what intrigues me.

The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums (Chinaski), Thursday, 7 December 2017 21:04 (one year ago) Permalink

how much of the silence over the new ep is cos its not on ninjatune.
suspect most people throwing love at EPIC got to hear it via their digital mailing list ?
i have had nothing in my inbox re the new ep at all.

mark e, Thursday, 7 December 2017 21:09 (one year ago) Permalink

it would be harder to market, no element of surprise, it's not 3 hours long, the cover is poor imo

but "Truth" is a great jam

niels, Friday, 8 December 2017 07:26 (one year ago) Permalink

Agree with everything Chinaski said.

Hey Bob (Scik Mouthy), Friday, 8 December 2017 07:37 (one year ago) Permalink

Surprised by that Guardian review, I must admit: I think it's the only bad review for a contemporary jazz release I've ever seen them publish. They review one a week, after all.

mahb, Friday, 8 December 2017 09:20 (one year ago) Permalink

I agree with Chinaski too but somehow Kamasi works as jazz junk food to me. Nowhere near as fulfilling as the jazzers of old but somehow not unpleasant to puton now and then

FREEZE! FYI! (dog latin), Friday, 8 December 2017 09:42 (one year ago) Permalink

four months pass...

New album due on June 22. Press release here: https://www.normanrecords.com/press/index.php?item_id=170512

mike t-diva, Tuesday, 10 April 2018 13:24 (eight months ago) Permalink

Two tracks from the new one are up on Spotify:

"Fists of Fury": https://open.spotify.com/track/1Etl6q0mmPV60TtOCD0uch?si=kn0fPwi7TC2tls18gSjtVA

"The Space Travelers Lullaby": https://open.spotify.com/track/3C9Zbwm1AxCMFDqvyuBQQj?si=d-VPyu59QkuU0nYL7Jyo9Q

I've only listened to "Fists of Fury" so far (each track is ~10 minutes long) but have already pre-ordered the 2CD set.

grawlix (unperson), Tuesday, 10 April 2018 13:48 (eight months ago) Permalink

holy shit @ "Fists of Fury"

Simon H., Tuesday, 10 April 2018 13:52 (eight months ago) Permalink

oh yeah fist of fury is amazing, totally different from his usual mode (but retaining a lot of his favorite harmonies and melodic flourishes, of course)

stormzy daniels (voodoo chili), Tuesday, 10 April 2018 20:36 (eight months ago) Permalink

This is so great, and I wasn't that much of a fan of the last one.

change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 10 April 2018 20:50 (eight months ago) Permalink

Love the choirs & strings on these, really gives it that lost '70s artifact vibe (same for how low the drums are mixed, which I don't love but it works here)

change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 10 April 2018 20:57 (eight months ago) Permalink

two months pass...

I reviewed the new album for Stereogum. (I forgot to mention that his dad was playing flute at the Forest Hills Stadium show on Friday night.)

grawlix (unperson), Tuesday, 19 June 2018 18:51 (six months ago) Permalink

Apparently the new album contains a hidden bonus disc, making it 3 CDs or 5 LPs. (The music on the bonus disc was not serviced to reviewers, so now I'm really excited for my pre-order to arrive.)


grawlix (unperson), Thursday, 21 June 2018 17:20 (five months ago) Permalink

5 LPS??? dang

The Desus & Mero Chain (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 21 June 2018 17:23 (five months ago) Permalink

lmao it looks like they did it with the LP version too, requiring you to unearth it?!

Simon H., Thursday, 21 June 2018 17:27 (five months ago) Permalink

The CD packaging is bizarre. The third CD is hidden within the centre section of the gatefold. The only way to free it is to take the extreme tip of a very sharp knife, and slit along the perforations on one side or the other. The CD isn't protected in a slip case, there's just a square sheet of printed paper with it - so you have to take great care not to scratch it while trying to get hold of it. I managed this, but the central section of the gatefold does now look a bit battered. Conceptual.

mike t-diva, Friday, 22 June 2018 16:59 (five months ago) Permalink

It's not as bad as all that. I was able to pop the perforations with just my fingers, no knife, and the CD and one-sheet insert came out with no problems. Also, there's a peel-away adhesive strip inside that allows you to seal the packaging up again, making it into a narrow pocket for when you want to replace the third disc.

grawlix (unperson), Friday, 22 June 2018 17:16 (five months ago) Permalink

I've had a close look at the (£43) vinyl sleeve and I can't see a dashiki under the space suit. No credibility.

The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums (Chinaski), Tuesday, 26 June 2018 07:10 (five months ago) Permalink

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