Inglewood native Kamasi Washington has released two EPs and collaborated with a range of greats, from nonagenarian trumpeter Gerald Wilson to hip-hop star Snoop Lion. Still, the 33-year-old saxophonist calls his upcoming album “debut-ish.” Clocking in at 171 minutes, The Epic, dropping this summer, filters Coltrane-inspired sheets of sound through electrified beats. To record it, Washington led a Noah’s ark of musicians—two keyboardists, two drummers, two bassists—through a month of studio sessions, amassing more than 200 hours of material. “When I finally narrowed it down to 17 songs, it felt like one piece of work,” he says. “To spread these recordings out would be like splitting up a family.” Part of a youthful L.A. jazz scene that orbits around producer Flying Lotus and his Brainfeeder imprint, Washington continues to hone his sound playing with the West Coast Get Down, the label’s “house band” (see below). For those unfamiliar with the roar of his horn, the residency and the record are a welcome introduction.
The Boys In The Band
Since 2011, the West Coast Get Down has performed on Wednesday and Friday nights at Hollywood’s Piano Bar. Look for Washington to join the crew on May 7, 9, 14, 16, 21, and 23.
One half of the soulful Graves Brothers, the keyboardist is known for his dexterity and intuitive harmonies.
The keyboardist unites the stylings of pianist Bill Evans and Funkadelic’s Bernie Worrell in a single phrase.
Channeling the ghost of Jimi Hendrix, he works an upright bass like it’s an electric guitar.
Though his drumming has a forceful backbeat, it also displays an impeccable sense of swing.
Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner
The bass guitarist is fond of fleet-fingered solos and wearing chain mail onstage.
Ronald Bruner Jr.
The drummer is equally comfortable touring with thrash rockers Suicidal Tendencies and fusion bassist Stanley Clarke.
Photographs courtesy (in order): (1) Isaac Matthew White, (2) Coleman, (3) Josh Hartley, (5) B+/Courtesy Motormouth Media, and (6) Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images