When Kamasi Washington released his tour de force LP, The Epic
, in 2015, it instantly set him on a path as a torchbearer for progressive, improvisational music that would open the door for new audiences to experience music unlike anything they had heard before. The 172-minute odyssey featuring his 10-piece band, The Next Step, was littered with elements of hip-hop, classical and R&B music, all major influences on the young saxophonist and bandleader, who exceeds any notions of what “jazz” music is.
Released to critical acclaim, The Epic won numerous “best of” awards, including the American Music Prize and the Gilles Peterson Worldwide album of the year. Washington followed that work with collaborations with other influential artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Run the Jewels, Ibeyi, and John Legend, and the creation of “Harmony of Difference,” a standalone multimedia installation during the 2017 Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.
In June 2018, Washington released Heaven and Earth to wide praise. The album garnered "best of" awards from Pitchfork, NPR, Variety, GQ, MOJO, and Complex, among others. Collaborating with cutting edge filmmakers Bradford Young, Jenn Nkiru, Terence Nance and Marc Thomas, Washington helped direct AS TOLD TO G/D THYSELF, a film inspired by Heaven and Earth which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2019. The film has also screened at The Broad, Stony Island Arts Bank, The Apollo Theater, and 180 The Strand in London.