At his Mumbai concert, Kamasi Washington reminds why he’s among the most relevant artists in contemporary jazz
Kamasi Washington is an American virtuoso jazz saxophone player, with his improvisation earning him the tag of revivalist. Third Culture Entertainment brought him down for an India tour, as part of which he performed at Mumbai’s Royal Opera House on 28 August.
Washington’s astonishing lung power ensured his sax rang bright even against the richly textured wall of sound being drawn by his equally remarkable band.
Washington’s nine-piece supporting band included trombone player Ryan Porter, double bassist Miles Mosley, drummers Tony Austin and Ronald Bruner Jr, keyboardist BIGYUKI aka Masayuki Hirano and his father, soprano saxophone and flute player Rickey Washington.
The concert opened with “Street Fighter Mas” off his 2018 double album Heaven and Earth which the band transformed into a propulsive, raucous and infectious celebration of life.
A particular highlight was “Truth”, which Washington preluded with a short speech. When he told the crowd, “I don’t need to look like you to love you, I don’t need to speak the same language as you to love you, I don’t need to have the same beliefs to love you and I love you”.
Mosley’s soul composition “Abraham” was a masterclass in double bass
Also at the show, Washington said that “diversity is not something to be tolerated, it’s something to be celebrated”.
By closing with the call-to-arms “Fists Of Fury”, Washington reminded us that as energetic and enjoyable as his music may be, it’s intrinsically tied to the politics of our time.
It is Washington’s political and passionate approach to music that places him among the most relevant artists in contemporary jazz in more ways than one.
Tej Brar, founder and managing director, Third Culture Entertainment, said, 'Hosting Kamasi Washington in India has been a goal of mine for some time now. I think his music lies at a really interesting intersection between jazz, hip-hop and funk, so it is something new for the Indian audience. We are looking forward to bringing down more artists like him to India.'