Kamasi Washington – The Choice [EP] (2018)

Kamasi Washington - The Choice [EP] (2018)
Artist: Kamasi Washington
Album: The Choice [EP]
Genre: Contemporary Jazz, Post-Bop, Fusion
Origin: USA
Released: 2018
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Tracklist:
The Secret Of Jinsinson (08:07)
Will You Love Me Tomorrow (09:40)
My Family (06:35)
Agents Of Multiverse (05:22)
Ooh Child (08:53)

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Deep in a 2016 New York Times Magazine profile of Kamasi Washington, the saxophonist is at brunch with his girlfriend when some smooth jazz from Najee oozes out of the speakers. But Washington is unperturbed, noting that despite the beige, wallpaper tone, Najee nevertheless has roots in gospel. For a man who’s often billed as jazz’s next big star, it’s a telling moment: For Washington, no musical genre is devoid of value. To which his girlfriend quips: “Kamasi is totally nonjudgmental, in all areas. It makes life a lot less stressful.”

Such openness is a defining characteristic of Washington’s sound and worldview. It makes him an ideal sideman for Chaka Khan and Snoop, the perfect foil for Pulitzer Kenny; He’s even chill with playing the Sexy Sax Man role at the BET Awards. For his recent opus Heaven and Earth, it’s that sense of broadness that gives him the latitude to draw on everything from an early Freddie Hubbard composition to the theme music from Bruce Lee’s 1972 kung-fu joint Fists of Fury, finding Latin flavor in the former and a Blaxploitation strut in the latter. But if you were hoping to glimpse a bit more adventurousness from the saxophonist on the bonus album The Choice (which comes hidden inside the record sleeve and, once it’s cut free, brings the runtime of the entire album past the three-hour mark), the five secret songs here instead show that Washington can also do smooth jazz with the best of them.

Washington’s latest finds the tenor saxophonist, composer, and bandleader wholly in his own lane. But the sprawl of the massive new album doesn’t lead him outside the parameters he’s already established for his sound; instead, it doubles down on them. So it’s a little disappointing that an additional 40 minutes of music doesn’t reveal any new wrinkles, twists, or paths not taken in the sessions; some curious covers and mild originals merely show that the album could have been an even mellower affair. Pianist Cameron Graves’ gentle chording and Brandon Coleman’s fluttering organ give “The Secret of Jinsinson” a soft edge, and a choir fluffs out the composition’s cloudlike shape. But there’s not enough to differentiate it from Heaven and Earth’s more epic material; it feels more like a leftover.
by Andy Beta

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