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Kamasi Washington releases a new single, announces a new album and tour

Kamasi Washington photo by B+
Kamasi Washington/Young Turks Recordings
Kamasi Washington releases his new album Fearless Movement May 3, performing in Seattle May 31.

Saxophonist Kamasi Washington has finally released a new song. “Prologue” is the first single from his upcoming albumFearless Movement, his first album in six years.

Washington's 2015 award-winning triple album The Epic made him one of the biggest attractions in jazz. The 2018 album Heaven and Earth arrived on three CDs (or five vinyl records) and built on his growing popularity.

Washington’s soundtrack for the Michelle Obama documentary Becoming came out in 2020, but the pandemic break has been a long one for fans hoping for a third proper album from the L.A. modern jazz star.

Fearless Movement brings a subtle change in Washington’s trademark sound - modern soul-jazz with hip-hop and electronica influences. The theme for this new album is dance.

“In a way it’s the same thing as music,” he explained on his website. “Expressing your spirit through your body – that’s what this album is pushing.”

The first example of this musical movement into physical movement is the album’s lead single, “Prologue.” The closer of this 86-minute album (less than half as long as previous releases) comes with a beautiful video, a product of Washington’s close connections to his hometown’s film industry.

Video director AG Rojas pulls the camera back slowly, showing Washington sitting sedately in front of a stack of speakers with his bandmates standing at his side. The music is cinematic, dramatic, and propulsive, with drummers Ronald Bruner Jr. and Tony Austin augmented by a pair of percussionists.

Numerous beautiful dance sequences choreographed by Samantha Blake Goodman form the heart of the visual piece. The images and music may draw on a recent unfinished project Washington was working on that mixed music with ballet.

Dontae Winslow takes the first solo on trumpet, with the drums rising to meet his full force blowing. Washington follows with a solo of his own, a powerful moment that’s sure to be a showstopper when his tour begins this Spring.

Kamasi Washington’s band will be at Seattle’s Showbox Theater May 31, giving his fans here a month to absorb Fearless Movement.

The album welcomes guest performances from funk legend George Clinton, bassist Thundercat, young rapper D Smoke and budding flutist Andre 3000. The former rap star, who stunned fans with his new atmospheric flute album, is featured on a song built from a jam session with Washington and pianist Brandon Coleman.

Washington’s 2-year-old daughter Asha gets in on the fun as well, earning credit for “Asha the First” based on a melody she came up with while picking out notes at the piano.

Emerging from the pandemic with his new daughter, a new tour, and (finally) a new album, Kamasi Washington is quickly moving back into the jazz consciousness. Fearless Movement is sure to make you move, too.

The New Cool airs Fridays at 9 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Washington. LISTEN ON DEMAND

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Abe grew up in Western Washington, a third generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KNKX, editing and producing audio for news stories. It was a Christmas Day shift no one else wanted that gave Abe his first on-air experience which led to overnights, then Saturday afternoons, and started hosting Evening Jazz in 1998.