Prom 61 Tuesday 30 August 2016
I first heard of Kamasi Washington back in May. We play music in the office I work in and a colleague of mine had him playing on the speaker system. Before I’d even finished listening to the second track, I had bought the album we were listening to called “The Epic” and purchased a ticket to see him perform!
Saxophonist and composer, Kamasi Washinigton from California is one talented brother! He’s toured with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Snoop, Herbie Hancock and Lauryn Hill.
As part of BBC Proms, which run from July-September, Kamasi was Prom 61 of 75. It was a late night performance at the Royal Albert Hall, starting at 10.15pm.
Jazz can be an acquired taste but it attracts people from different walks of life and it was definitely reflected in his audience. It was predominately white, so it forced me – as you do – to seek out the faces that look like your own, as I was going about my business before the concert started; getting my glass of wine, finding my seat and then having a walk about in this amazing building. So it was a pleasant surprise as I was on my mini exploration to see Dashikis and Ankara cloth dotted throughout out the crowd, clocking brothers and sisters in groups and couples giving each other that knowing look, like “we in this bitch!!”
The concert started with Change of the Guard. Hearing the orchestra and choir along with himself in that space was breath taking. Not forgetting his band that is truly out of this world, the pianist Brandon Coleman, drummers Ronald Bruner Jr and Antonio Austin, double bass player Abraham Mosley, Patrice Quinn on vocals and trombone player Ryan Porter, absolutely blew me away!
They played the best part of the Epic album, showcasing each band members outstanding capabilities. My favourites and most moving were Change of the Guard, The Rhythm Changes, Isabelle, Final thought and Leroy & Lanisha. He even played a piece that he wrote on his way to London that was equally as brilliant as those in his album.
At one point he brought out his father, Rickey Washington who plays the flute and soprano saxophone. Even if he didn’t state that he taught him all he knows, it wouldn’t be too hard to guess! They played a wonderful piece called Henrietta Our Hero, which is dedicated to his grandmother.
A full Orchestra and Choir is needed when Kamasi tours and it’s easier to source them from wherever he goes. So this was the first time he was performing with the T.O.P. Gospel Choir and Strings of the City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra- they really did his music justice. Overall the concert was amazing as was the setting.
I noticed 2 things about this particular crowd within moments of the concert starting which was:
1.Bar a few – my self included, filming a minute or 2 here and there – No one was watching it through their camera phones, everyone was present which was great!
2.Even though they showed great appreciation after solos and at the end of each piece, by way of whoops and rapturous applause no one was really physically moving apart a few people in the standing section…that jarred me know end! I thought everyone knew how to dance in their seats. I get that people enjoy things in different ways but as I was on my own I did feel a little out of place in the box section of 12 that I was in. However after the 2nd piece I was like “Girl, you paid your money! You will not see these folks again. Enjoy yourself!” and I did.
Listen to the actual concert here! Only available for the next 30 days.
Photos sourced from Kamasi Washington.com