In the past year, saxophonist and member of LA-based jazz super-group West Coast Get Down, Kamasi Washington has exploded into the spotlight. His debut record, The Epic, is indeed a 3-disc, 172-minute musical epic that was in fact an abridged rendition of his original 45 recorded tracks. With scoring Kendrick Lamar‘s explosive To Pimp A Butterfly, and associations with Thundercat and Flying Lotus under his belt – as well as a number of tours with Snoop Dogg, Raphael Saadiq, and Lauryn Hill – Washington was poised to make his own mark on the scene. And that he did – The Epic took not only the jazz world by storm, but the electronic and the hiphop realms as well. Audiences young and old clamoured to attend his rapidly expanding tour, lapping up the often 10+ minute serenades of Washington and his immense (and equally immensely impressive) band. His record found its way to countless “best of 2015” lists (including ours), proving to be a mammoth testament to the staying power of straight jazz, R&B, soul, hiphop, and all other styles in the record’s musical mixing-pot for fans and critics alike.
After selling out countless shows across his subsequent tour, Washington’s spot at SummerStage on Sunday was by no means an exception. A part of Blue Note Jazz Festival, masses of head-bobbers, finger-snappers, arm-thrashers, and rump-shakers came out to Central Park to jam along with Washington and the band, and revel in the glory of his musical stew.
During the show, not only did Washington bring The Epic to life – with the help of long-standing band Miles Mosely (bass), Patrice Quinn (vocals), Ryan Porter (trombone), Tony Austin (drums), Ronald Bruner, Jr. (drums), Brandon Coleman (keyboards), and a guest spot by Igmar Thomas (trumpet) – he also revealed new material from his new album, slotted for release this September.
Photographer Deneka Peniston gave Revive exclusive access to some of the phenomenal shots she took of the show – check out some of our favorites below, and be sure to catch the other great offerings SummerStage will be serving up this summer.