Kamasi Washington Ensemble by S. Ianne
Kamasi Washington Ensemble by S. Ianne

I heard it on the grapevine that Kamasi Washington was good, but after seeing him and his band live, I can testify that he was better than good, he was magnificent. The whole collective, as he named it, was magnificent. Miles Mosley was magnificent, the wizard behind the double-bass creating sounds and vibes so diverse you would have thought elves were hard at work inside his sound box. Mosley made Les Claypool from Primus sound like an amateur. Miles-voodoo child-Mosley made Jimi Hendrix sound like an amateur. He made his double bass vibrate as tightly as a Sicilian scacciapensieri, or mouth harp, and rock as hard as a metal guitar. And the man has a voice as well. But I digress, each solo performance from each of the musicians on stage was beyond impressive. It struck me that all musicians on stage were fueled by water…

Kamasi made it clear, this is a collective and it is a collective performance of amazingly talented and inventive people. Amongst them Rickey Washington, father and mentor touring with his rising star son, humbly taking the credit for having taught the guy all that he knows. Washington is deadly serious about his music. He has rhythm, he has melody, he has powerful content. He goes beyond genres, he goes beyond cultural influences, he proudly harmonizes diversity, he gives sounds to his daydreams and takes us with him. The Latin influence is as powerful as his blues, coming from the melting pot that is LA, jazz in Washington’s world has no barriers, no borders, no limits. And I shouldnot forget to mention the only lady on stage the singer, Patrice Quinn, who, when she was not charming us with her enchantress voice, would definitely charm us with her dance moves. No embarrassed hands hanging on the side of the body here, just total joy and rapture at the beauty and power of the music. Amongst her best moments, Henrietta Our Hero, a song dedicated to Kamasi’s deceased grandmother sung by the smooth lady in gold, who also sang Fists of Fury, forcefully, beautifully, impersonating the victim who are determined not to be victims anymore, actively seeking retribution.The best collective moment? The multi-layered performance of Truth, without any doubt.

Forget the horrendous hall, which will not be named. Forget about the sound mishaps, microphones suddenly lapsing leaving us to wonder what the music coming out of that transverse flute would sound like. Forget about the light technician not realizing that both drummers, the amazing Tony Austin and Ronald Bruner Jr, were actually playing, starting a percussion dialogue between the two of them as announced by Kamasi and keeping one in total darkness. If I were left to play in the dark, I would have probably stopped and screamed for attention. No drama, the musicians on stage are just too cool and professional to play the trite part of the superstar. Starstruck was the name of the lorries parked outside the venue, probably just carrying the instruments. Well, I could not have put it better myself, I was starstruck tonight.

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