Kamasi Washington continues hot streak on new EP

Written By Mick Stinelli, A&E Editor

Kamasi Washington came to mainstream prominence in early 2015 as a massive contributor on Kendrick Lamar’s album, “To Pimp a Butterfly.” His saxophone played a massive role in the song “U,” and he also worked on the album’s string arrangements. That same year he released his LP, “The Epic.” The album came a month after Lamar’s “Butterfly,” and ran at a massive three hours-long. The album was a masterwork in modern jazz and was one of the best albums of the year.

Washington’s new EP, “Harmony of Difference,” is only 30 minutes long, but still provides a wholly rewarding listen. Though short, the record is relentless, moving along at a fast pace with grand arrangements.

“Desire” opens the album with a humble bassline that leads into the EP’s main motif. This motif runs throughout the record, giving each track a sense of familiarity before they’ve even finished. The track is more reserved than others on the EP, serving as a way to welcome listeners into the experience before leading seamlessly into “Humility.”

“Humility” begins with a layered saxophone riff before giving Washington’s band a chance to shine, featuring a powerful solo from trumpet player Dontae Winslow. The song continues to grow bigger and bigger before boiling over.

“Knowledge,” the third track, begins slowly off the back of “Humility.” It is a wonderful showcase of Washington’s impeccable sense of pacing, knowing exactly when to give his tracks room to breathe. “Knowledge” reiterates the record’s main motif, fleshing out its arrangement and emotion from when it was first heard.

“Perspective” is a wonderful example of jazz funk, with Washington’s percussion section showing off their chops without straying from the pocket.

“Integrity” picks up the main motif once again, expanding it before moving onto closing track “Truth.”

“Truth,” which was released a single for the EP earlier in the year, starts out with a wonderful piano melody. The track, which is 13 and a half minutes in length, is a slow burner. It grows slowly before reaching a climax about five minutes in, at which point the temp shifts and the groove picks up. The track continues to grow further, eventually reaching a final climax featuring a choir.

Though not nearly as long as “The Epic,” “Harmony of Difference” does a wonderful job of showing Washington’s talent as a musician and bandleader. It’s ups and downs serve as an emotional back and forth. It proves to be a very exciting exchange to engage in.