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The Epic by Kamasi Washington

Kamasi Washington

The Epic

Release Date: May 5, 2015

Genre(s): Jazz, Modern Creative, Modern Jazz, World Fusion, Jazz-Funk, Modal Music, Spiritual Jazz, Latin Jazz

Record label: Brainfeeder


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Album Review: The Epic by Kamasi Washington

Great, Based on 5 Critics

Pitchfork - 86
Based on rating 8.6/10

It is probably impossible to discuss Kamasi Washington's new record—all three impressive hours of it—without copping to at least some awareness of two extra-musical truths. The first of these holds that, as a member of the studio wrecking crew that brought Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly into being, this saxophonist-composer is unusually well poised to secure the attention of listeners who have previously been uninterested in jazz. (This past spring's celebration of all-things-TPAB was sufficiently strong that Billboard even published a well-reported piece that detailed exactly how Lamar's album came to feature so many jazz figures, including Washington.

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The Guardian - 80
Based on rating 4/5

The title isn’t kidding – this is a 172-minute spectacular for choir, classical orchestra and jazz band. Leader Kamasi Washington, a flamethrower of a saxophonist with John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders connections, also works for West Coast hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar. Dedicated to bringing jazz to the uninitiated, Epic features soul and gospel vocals, boiling drumming (Art Blakey was a declared inspiration), swing, funk, and voicelike free-jazz blowing.

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AllMusic - 80
Based on rating 8/10

The Epic is saxophonist Kamasi Washington's aptly titled, triple-length, 172-minute debut album for Brainfeeder. He is a veteran of L.A.'s music scene and has played with Gerald Wilson, Harvey Mason, Flying Lotus, and Kendrick Lamar (his horn is prominently featured on To Pimp a Butterfly), to name but a few. Most of his bandmates have played together since high school, and it shows.

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Drowned In Sound - 80
Based on rating 8/10

Battling upstream against our culture of dwindling attention spans is the appositely titled The Epic – a three-disc, three-hour monster of a jazz album. In an age when music is dismissed within the first 15 seconds of a stream, this feels like a handsome relic from a time of patience and focus. All credit to virtuosic saxophonist Kamsai Washington for having the nerve to do it, and even more credit for managing to completely pull it off.

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Rolling Stone - 60
Based on rating 3/5

Part of an exploding network of L.A. visionaries, Kamasi Washington is the sax-wielding jazz guru on recent masterpieces by Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus. Now he's made one of his own — a three-disc debut on FlyLo's label with a 10-piece band, plus choir and strings. To be sure, it's a jazz album, as much about tradition as expanding it, informed by Coltranes (John and Alice), Miles Davis fusions, bebop and more; yet it's clearly shaped by crate-digger funk and film scores, hip-hop collage and gospel.

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