Sydney – Tuesday 24 October, 2017. A bold new giant of modern jazz, Kamasi Washington and his 10-piece band The Next Step will make their Sydney Opera House debut in March next year.
Kamasi is the latest in a line of West Coast jazz greats that have carried the genre to mainstream chart success. He has orchestrated arrangements for Kendrick Lamar (‘Lust’ and ‘Mortal Man’), lent his melodies to Run the Jewels and Flying Lotus, and worked with living legends Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Stanley Clarke. His three self-released albums in the mid-2000s moved amongst jazz circles, but it wasn’t until the release of Brainfeeder-backed The Epic – a three-hour, three-disc opus that teased the conventions of improvisational jazz – that Kamasi reached mainstream ears. It was true enough to its name that even purists at The Guardian praised it as “a spectacular new jazz odyssey.”
Still keeping to his bebop chops, Kamasi has driven jazz onto festival main stages in a way not seen since ‘80s Miles Davis, topping line-ups at Coachella, Glastonbury, Fuji Rock, Bonnaroo and Primavera. His EP, Harmony of Difference, is a six-movement suite set to projected paintings by his sister Amai, displayed at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art earlier this year. Like his predecessors in Brainfeeder, Harmony of Difference finds an appropriate home in the label Young Turks (The xx, FKA twigs), with Pitchfork declaring it a display of “tireless ambition with his compositions, performance, and spiritual ambition.”
Sydney Opera House Head of Contemporary Music, Ben Marshall, says: “A crucial contributor to Kendrick Lamar's epoch-making To Pimp A Butterfly album, Kamasi Washington proved then and consistently ever since that his work goes far beyond jazz, announcing to the world that intellectually stimulating music doesn't have to be underground. Kamasi's live performances are muscular, visceral powerhouse displays of virtuosity, supported by rigorous philosophical underpinnings and a natural disposition to face welcomingly towards new audiences.
We have wanted to present this major figure in contemporary music for a long time and we know he and his band are going to absolutely ignite the Concert Hall stage this summer. We're all going to be hearing Kamasi Washington's name and influence for a long time to come.”
Kamasi Washington and his grand band will bring roof-shaking rhythms to the Concert Hall stage, guiding the audience on a spiritual journey of soaring solos, deep funk grooves and a hint at the future of jazz.