Friday, July 14, 2017


KAMASI WASHINGTON rules. His triple album 'The Epic' is No. 1 default sound on my system since the end of April when I got it as a birthday present. Then yesterday I discovered in a slush pile of clippings this great article from June 2016 by the grandly named Ludovic Hunter-Tilney. LHT's punchy piece puts Kamasi and his band at the LA epicentre of a new politically infused jazz movement. Kamasi says: "The whole point of playing this music is to convey a message. That message comes from The Autobiography of Malcolm X, published in 1965, the year he was assassinated. Copies were handed out at Kasami's school by black activists and it stuck with him. The message is: "Self discipline, self understanding and self love, that's what it was really about. Just love yourself, you're beautiful, your history, your culture, you come from someone who is beautiful, you're not just the descendant of a slave, you should have pride in who you are, knowing why you are."

Kasami won a scholarship to study ethomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles,where he learnt about 'north Indian classical music, Indonesian gamelan and Ghanaian gospel choirs.' The album took four years to make and features a 10-piece jazz band, , a 32-piece porchestra and a 20-voice choir. His touring band features seven musicians including his father Rickey who also plays sax. The band, reports LHT, is made up of his LA peers, most being also the children of jazz players. They formed a musical collective named  the West Coast Get Down who played every week at a Hollywood club. A monthy-long collaborative session in the studio provided the germ of 'The Epic'. That's all you need to know as a taster. Now book a comfortable couch and immerse yourself in this amazing music. Several great live concerts on YouTube, including a Glastonbury show. Powerful healing force or what.

JACO PASTORIOUS is widely regarded as the Jimi Hendrix of the bass guitar. He reinvented the instrument, expanding its possibilities by removing the frets and pushing the playing techniques into unknown territory. At the level of musicianship Pastorious reached, he was soon feted and showered with superlatives. His work with Weather Report, Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock -  to name just three  - is outstanding. His many other ensembles that played his compositions, range across many fields and emotions. Jaco's bipolar extraordinariness spilled over into drug use, uncontrollable antics and, in the end, murderous violence. Set against this is much beautiful footage of his children and himself, swimming, juggling, having fun. Packed with harsh and tender moments, great interviews and tasteful clips and tracks, 'Jaco' will bring tears but also profound inspiration that so much wonderful music could pour out of this man. Ditto as above: YouTube and many great albums to explore.

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