You buy a ticket knowing it’s going to be good, but not knowing exactly what to expect. In its improvisational masterpiece, Kamasi Washington on the saxophone led a band of some of the most talented musicians: double drums, double keys, and double brass. Singer Patrice Quinn got swept away into the music, in usual fashion, singing inspiring lyrics and beautiful tones, forming an instrument with her vocals. Tracks blended into elongated solos, for a whirlwind of perfectly layered melodies – some recognizable from Kamasi’s 17-song opus The Epic, latest 6-song release Harmony of Difference, and other songs didn’t need a name as you lost yourself in the music.
Kamasi proudly introduced his dad Rickey to the stage, like in many past performances, who led out on the flute with Kamasi’s humble appreciation. Throughout the night, the two united harmonizing in love.
Later in the set, Washington announced that he loves collaboration and is going to invite two very talented people to the stage who he’s never played with before – him meeting them the same time as the audience. The talent? Pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph (going on tour with his Family Band next month) and keyboardist John Medeski (better known as Medeski Martin & Wood). Randolph’s solo went seamlessly into Medeski’s time in the spotlight that all came together with Kamasi’s band improving their way into a soul-warming groove.
After solos with dual drums, upright bass, and every band member had a chance to shine, Kamasi announced that they were going to play a very special song to his heart Humility that blends five different melodies to represent how diversity works together to create something beautiful.
“We shouldn’t learn to tolerate diversity, we should celebrate it!”
Break Science warmed up the crowd as a perfect counterpart to Washington’s set – similarly, seemingly improvisational blend of music – yet electronic based. The duo, Borahm Lee on keys, producing, and DJing with Adam Deitch on drums, invited a trumpet player to the stage that made it an even more fitting tie in to the night with all the elements of the music coming alive.
Their electronic beats go much deeper than an usual DJ set. There are deep bass layers, squishy and wompy top accents, sounds of horns and brass instruments, and live drums that give Break Science its own genre.
The music is usually filling up a massive tent at a music festival that makes it impossible not to dance to, but tonight their music had everyone nodding along, warming up from the New York winter.