With a jazz superstar in intimate surroundings, Soulfultiz is left captivated by the great Kamasi Washington.

West Coast Get Down, or WCGD. That’s the name of Kamasi Washington’s band, and it almost feels like a mission statement.

This is Mr Washington’s first time in Liverpool. Surprisingly, the show was originally due to be held at the 1,200 capacity O2 Academy, but moved a day or two earlier to the Arts Club, a venue of almost half the size.

The reasons for this aren’t worth debating, but all those people who didn’t snap up tickets for this one missed out.

Much of the setlist tonight comes from Washington’s 2015 opus The Epic, and he opens with Cherokee, an old jazz standard that appears in The Historic Repetition, that album’s final volume. He mentions that he and WCGD keep trying different variations of the song. It’s true that it wasn’t exactly the arrangement we remember from the record, but it was no less enthralling.

His interaction with the crowd was beyond what we were expecting. He introduced his father, Rickey Washington, and mentions that he introduced him to everything from playing sax to tying shoelaces, and mentions that before he discovered the saxophone, he learned to play the drums at three years old.

He would go to the home of a childhood friend where they would jam on sax and drums, much to the neighbours’ annoyance. This led to a small sax and drum jam, which served as an extended intro for Miss Understanding.

The crowd were so engrossed in the performance that Washington thought nothing of dropping a new track in the middle of everything. It was written by keyboard player Brandon Coleman. The song is called Black Man, with gorgeous vocals handled by Patrice Quinn. It proved that it isn’t all a one man show, and Washington is more than generous for showing off his band members’ talents.

As it happens, the downsizing of the venue turned out to be a good thing. The Arts Club was a much more appropriate venue for the gig, although we doubt the promoters would agree. Some who had seen him in a larger venue last year commented that the intimacy of the surroundings tonight made it feel all the more special.

It ends with one of the most genuine demands for an encore we’ve seen in some time, happily obliged by Kamasi and co.

Washington is undoubtedly a jazz superstar, leading the pack along with Thundercat and Flying Lotus, in danger of bringing it into the mainstream. And there is a reason for it – this was a truly captivating performance.

A little taste of Kamasi Washington's encore and second standing ovation. Incredible ?

Opslået af Planet Slop på 30. juni 2017

Photos by Vicky Pea