Kamasi Washington‘s run of Australian shows recently, both headline, festival (for Bluesfest) and supporting Kendrick Lamar have earned rave reviews and have won the Cali jazz maestro a legion of new fans. His album The Epic demonstrated a music talent that took contemporary music fans by storm last year and with these live shows continuing to highlight Washington’s diverse influences and live performance talent (not to mention that of his band, the West Coast Get Down), it’s definitely looking like 2016 is going to be nothing short of huge for him.
In amongst everything happening at Bluesfest, Washington sat down with Larry to chat about his Australian trip so far, the way his music has been bringing new fans to the genre of jazz in general and it’s relationship with hip hop, most recently and prominently highlighted in Washington’s collaborations with Kendrick Lamar.
“It’s been great,” he says of this tour. “I heard how beautiful this Byron Bay is and I didn’t have a chance to see the waterfalls and beaches and stuff. We came to the festival and we’ve hung out here; it’s been beautiful and the people have been amazing, it’s been great. We were in Melbourne and that was great fun, Sydney as well; my impression is that I want to come back!”
“I just play what I hear,” he says of his live presence. “All of that comes in there. When I’m playing what I’m hearing, when I’m expressing who I am or expressing what’s in me, the history is in me because I studied it. It’s embedded into the roots of who I am… As I’m playing just playing who I am, those things come out – I’m not really committed to any of it. I’m not really committing to playing like the past, I’m not pressing to play like it’s the future, I’m really trying to be in the moment. The exact moment that I’m in. I guess I’m dedicated to the present.”
“That’s the beautiful thing about jazz, it’s free.” Washington says. “It’s open. I think that it has such a wide history, that the only thing you can really say that has made its way throughout, is that freedom. The freedom to play what you want to play, in the moment. That’s what makes jazz what it is.”
Listen to the full interview below!