Much has previously been made of Kamasi Washington’s work with various artists, but he needs no assistance by association when his already considerable output is this good. ‘Heaven and Earth’ is an album with soul jazz, spiritual jazz, jazz-funk, electro-soul and many more genre-busting approaches incorporated across 16 wondrous pieces, aspects of free rhythms nestling next to vintage seventies soul sounds, all evolved effortlessly for the 21st Century.
There are very few contemporary artists with both Washington’s talent and audacity of expression. The insistent vitality of this music, responding to a damaged world on the ‘Earth’ album and exploring the artist’s own view of our existence on the ‘Heaven’ set, should ensure those with genre anxiety are put at ease, while the purists are in for quite a journey. ‘Fists Of Fury’ is a triumph, the vocals of Patrice Quinn and Dwight Trible combining over a strident rhythm, while ‘Testify’ swings with an assured lightness of touch.
The concluding pair, ‘Show Us The Way’ and ‘Will You Sing’, offer a potent final flourish, the former whipping up a frenzied choir who then spread out across the latter in a majestic display of humanity. You won’t hear another record like it this, or maybe any, year.
Words: Gareth James
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