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Kamasi Washington's The Epic

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  • Kamasi Washington's The Epic

    Be interested to know what the jazz fans here think of this LP, which has been praised to the hilt by the rock press and is now appearing in many end-of-year lists.

    I was certainly intrigued by it, not to mention beguiled by the spiritual/Afro jazz homage cover art… enough to buy the three-LP box in fact. But I have to say that it's left me somewhat disappointed. It jumps between spiritual, fusion, soul-jazz… but its scope is maybe too expansive for me. As far as contemporary old-school jazz goes, I prefer the more focused LPs that Matthew Halsall and his band have been putting out these past few years.

    That said, Washington's take on Clair de Lune, and the track Leroy and Lanisha (a homage to Linus and Lucy on Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas) are two of my favourite tracks this years. Anyone digging this album? Maybe someone else's enthusiasm can spark my own…

  • #2
    I agree with the expansiveness of the LP. it's a lot to listen to but it's not called The Epic for nothing! It seems that Kamasi had access to studio time for a couple of weeks and just recorded everything he had. Some editing could have tightened it up - the choir and strings I feel are inessential but then again it's his record and I love the fact that he had the balls to do it as he felt he should. I bought the CD and I listen to it as 3 separate Lps and I have to say I love it.
    Did anyone catch his extra gig at the Scala on the Sunday after the Barbican gig? What a show! Intimate, immediate, joyous and life affirming ( due to his cancelled Paris show ) - easily one of my favourite gigs ever. On stage Kamasi comes over as a natural communicator and his band is on fire with Brandon Coleman giving his keytar a pasting! Also Patrice Quinn seemed to be singing directly to me. Really, the live experience is where it's at. Make sure you're there next time he's over.

    How does the vinyl sound? It looks like each side is over 30 mins in length - must be really quietly mastered.
    Back to Neuuuuuuuuuu!

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Mumbles View Post
      I agree with the expansiveness of the LP. it's a lot to listen to but it's not called The Epic for nothing! It seems that Kamasi had access to studio time for a couple of weeks and just recorded everything he had. Some editing could have tightened it up - the choir and strings I feel are inessential but then again it's his record and I love the fact that he had the balls to do it as he felt he should. I bought the CD and I listen to it as 3 separate Lps and I have to say I love it.
      Did anyone catch his extra gig at the Scala on the Sunday after the Barbican gig? What a show! Intimate, immediate, joyous and life affirming ( due to his cancelled Paris show ) - easily one of my favourite gigs ever. On stage Kamasi comes over as a natural communicator and his band is on fire with Brandon Coleman giving his keytar a pasting! Also Patrice Quinn seemed to be singing directly to me. Really, the live experience is where it's at. Make sure you're there next time he's over.

      How does the vinyl sound? It looks like each side is over 30 mins in length - must be really quietly mastered.
      I agree about the live experience being superior to the recorded one. I was at the Barbican gig and it blew my socks off. He really should release a live record
      I've got the album on d/l and play it on shuffle so I get the tracks at the end as much as the ones at the beginning. Sometimes things get a bit smooth for my tastes and despite all the reviews I personally don't get much Pharoah Sanders or Archie Shepp. But then things get soulful and deep and slightly far out and I love that. And that can happen in the same track.
      There's definatelty loads of hype around it but it's worth putting in the time
      Oh and I've also got it on vinyl which is a great artefact in its own right
      "Record collecting is no mere hobby, no innocuous leisurely diversion. It is a feverish passion bordering on dementia, driving those under the influence to irrational, compulsive, fanatical extremes."

      Night of the Living Vinyl

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      • #4
        Yeah point taken about him being better live - the stuff I've seen of him on YouTube confirms that. Really wish I'd gone to the Barbican gig now.

        Re the strings and choir - I think that's the problem for me: it's too much at times, an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach. I assume he was aiming for that free big-band sound that Coltrane nailed on Africa/Brass but for me the best tracks on The Epic are the least ambitious. Yet I too admire his nerve at putting out such an uncompromising album. And the vinyl box, as you point out Expiry, is a lovely thing.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by DirtyWater View Post
          Yeah point taken about him being better live - the stuff I've seen of him on YouTube confirms that. Really wish I'd gone to the Barbican gig now.

          Re the strings and choir - I think that's the problem for me: it's too much at times, an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach. I assume he was aiming for that free big-band sound that Coltrane nailed on Africa/Brass but for me the best tracks on The Epic are the least ambitious. Yet I too admire his nerve at putting out such an uncompromising album. And the vinyl box, as you point out Expiry, is a lovely thing.
          It is a frustratingly inconsistent record
          In fact I was chatting about it this afternoon in Soul Brother as I was buying a copy for a mate and the general consensus was that it was 'too Epic'
          Having said that, although it wears it's influences on its sleeve it's hard to think of anyone who is doing quite the same thing at the moment. And as someone said to me (admittedly about the Nat Birchall LP) if you can't hear the original this is as close as you can get!!!
          "Record collecting is no mere hobby, no innocuous leisurely diversion. It is a feverish passion bordering on dementia, driving those under the influence to irrational, compulsive, fanatical extremes."

          Night of the Living Vinyl

          Comment


          • #6
            Having a listen now the first two tracks were amazing, great bass on track 2, track 3 has slowed things down a bit but I'm liking it, will update my thoughts. Oh superb drumming!!!
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