Kamasi Washington brought his band of insanely talented jazz/funk players to Central Park’s SummerStage this past weekend, playing about 100 minutes of their signature style in perfect conditions. The weather was gorgeous, not too hot nor cold, and as the sun set during the band’s dense set, it was clear we were all enduring a real treat.
Since exploding past the jazz circuit virtually overnight, Kamasi Washington has been booked at pop festivals around the globe, hosting a super-jam at Bonnaroo and participating in one at Okeechobee to boot. While SummerStage hosts a variety of jazz shows throughout the year, you’ll be hard pressed to find one with as young a crowd as Kamasi’s. What he’s doing is garnering excitement amongst those who aren’t normally seen at jazz shows, which has been well-documented and invigorating to watch.
The band began with “Change of the Guard,” off last years The Epic, wasting no time as they unleashed their virtuosic skill-set and spiritual emotion upon the crowd. They’d slow things down next with their Claude Debussy cover “Claire de Lune,” but pick it back up for “The Psalm,” a new track of theirs. “Henrietta Our Hero” introduced Patricia Quinn’s angelic voice to the SummerStage audience, and they’d end with a bang: playing “Re Run,” “The Rhythm Changes,” and encoring with “The Magnificent 7” before the night’s end.