Tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington has a bold, fresh sound, like sunlight breaking through the blinds early Sunday morning, as most recently evidenced throughout the Los Angeles native’s new double-album Heaven and Earth, a worthy follow-up to his 2015 magnum opus, the triple-album The Epic.
Washington has explained via Twitter that "the Earth side of this album represents the world as I see it outwardly, the world that I am a part of. The Heaven side of this album represents the world as I see it inwardly, the world that is a part of me. Who I am and the choices I make lie somewhere in between." Clocking in at just under two and a half hours long, the album is visceral and stirring on all levels, to say the least.
The first track "Fists of Fury" is a chop suey mix of African percussion, piano, smooth sax and stereophonic sound. It has a ‘70s throwback sound that would have been the perfect accompaniment to any Bruce Lee or blaxploitation film. The second track "Can You Hear Him" has a panoramic sound, large and looming, and is a more traditional jazz offering than the first track. Third track "Hub-Tones" is a smooth ride through syncopated rhythms.
There are no skippable songs on this two-tone musical tour de force, only gradations of amazing. "Vi Lua Vi Sol" is a sexy, warm Latin-rhythm infused magisterial tune invokes feelings as well as lucid, supreme thought. The final track of 16, “Will You Sing” is a blend of jazz and orchestral elements, ending this musical experience on a rousing, church choir-like feel.
While his 2015 Brainfeeder release The Epic covered a lot of ground and was massive in scope, Heaven and Earth is a more tightly wound mechanism, encapsulating Washington's imagination and emotion in finely packaged ethereal harmonies.
Notable Tracks: “Fists of Fury” | “Hub-Tones” | “The Psalmist” | “Via Lua Vi Sol”