A seminal, trailblazing figure in the modern jazz scene, bridging a traditional, technical foundation with contemporary influence and flourish, saxophonist Kamasi Washington emerged as one of the most exciting new artists jazz has seen in years with his phenomenal, captivating 2015 effort The Epic (forged after years of collaborating with too many impressive names to count). With this year’s followup, Heaven and Earth, the acclaimed performer and frequent Kendrick Lamar collaborator has once again crafted a stunning, sprawling, and genre-bending masterpiece, which, like all of Washington’s work, should best be experienced live. Fortunately, you can do just that, when Kamasi returns to Nashville tonight, Nov. 16 to headline Marathon Music Works, along genre-bending Virginia jazz outfit Butcher Brown. Tickets to this highly-anticipated show are still available here, so grab yours now and read on for more!
Los Angeles raised jazz saxophonist, composer, producer, and bandleader Kamasi Washington has become a torchbearer for progressive, improvisational, and genre-bending in jazz in recent years, igniting a huge wave of interest and attracting legions of young fans with his forward-thinking, hip hop, r&b, and classical infused take on the genre. After studying at UCLA’s Department of Ethnomusicology under greats like Kenny Burrell, Billy Higgins, and Gerald Wilson, Kamasi appeared on Young Jazz Giants in 2004 and Gearld Wilson Orchestra’s big band release In My Time in 2006 (along with many subsequent efforts), and quickly found work with the who’s who of the jazz world (Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock) and beyond (Nas, Snoop Dogg, Chaka Khan, Ryan Adams, Flying Lotus) over the following decade. Washington perhaps received his first widespread accolades outside of the jazz scene for his contributions to Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy winning, platinum selling 2015 opus To Pimp A Butterfly, which Kamasi followed up with his own well-received, sprawling three hour long masterpiece, The Epic, that same year, backed by a 10-piece band and showcasing the first true distillation of what’s become his signature epic, ambitious sound. In the few years since, Washington has become a leading voice in modern jazz, appearing at increasingly larger venues and festivals (including a Bonnaroo outing where he led the SuperJam), collaborating with more big names like Run the Jewels, Thundercat, and, once again, Kendrick, and receiving widespread critical acclaim for layered, conceptual recent efforts, including last year’s Harmony of Difference EP, and this summer’s latest double album full-length, Heaven and Earth, and companion EP The Choice. Accomplishing the rare feat of making jazz cool and exiting to a hip young crowd and trendier music outlets, Washington’s sound lives at a mid point that should both impress jazz purists and prove accessible to newcomers, making the phenomenal artist one of the most interesting new performers of the past few years. His live show is absolutely breathtaking, and this is certainly one of the most essential shows of the rest of the year.
Made up of multi-instrumentalist and producer/engineer DJ Harrison, bassist Andrew Randazzo, guitarist Morgan Burrs, horn player Marcus Tenney, and drummer Corey Fonville, Richmond, Virginia’s Butcher Brown are a jazz, soul, funk, garage punk, and hip hop infused instrumental project that should definitely be on your radar. Having collaborated with the likes of Nicholas Payton, Nigel Hall, Dionne Farris, and Christian Scott, released a prolific string of excellent, genre-bending albums and live sessions over the past few years, and honed a respectable regional following, Butcher Brown are primed to leap from the underground to become a national fixture, and given their real-deal chops and expansive approach, we’ll be keeping a close eye on them. Be sure to show up early!
Kamasi Washington and Butcher Brown will perform tonight, Nov. 16 at Marathon Music Works. The show is all ages, begins at 8 p.m. (doors at 6:30 p.m.), and tickets are available to purchase for $35.