Kamasi Washington

Harmony of Difference


Young Turks


‘to pimp a butterfly’ sax genius kamasi washington doesn’t make background music, he makes revolutions on ‘harmony of difference’

October 3, 2017
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When you spend your career defying expectations and smashing the entrenched conventions of jazz, there’s really only one way to follow up a 3 hour sprawling masterpiece like The Epic; with a taught 30 minute suite. Kamasi Washington’s latest, Harmony of Difference takes all that made The Epic compelling and distills it down its barest essence. 6 songs, rarely breaking the 3 minute mark, bursting with ideas and energy, all culminating in an epic (but not Epic) conclusion in “Truth.” Snippets of melodies from the earlier 5 songs float in and out, while vocals and keys take the foreground.

The bursts of brilliance that Washington has brought to projects ranging from To Pimp A Butterfly to Ryan Adams’ Gold are on full display here. But instead of showcasing his saxophone virtuoso, he instead focuses on tight songwriting and taking the listener on a journey. When all too many jazz band leaders are obsessed with athletic displays, Kamasi Washington obsesses over atmosphere and energy. Nowhere is that more clear on the Afrobeat-tinged “Humility” or the complex rhythms of “Integrity.” If you want a nice jazz record to put on in the background, find something else. Kamasi Washington isn’t nice. If you want to be reminded that jazz still has the power to spark revolutions, pick up Harmony of Difference.