TicketMOMster review: Kamasi Washington @ The Burt, June 21 / 2016 TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival – Jazz Winnipeg
Sometimes I come home from a show completely wrapped up in what I just experienced. I’m so full of excitement and emotion, to the point where it feels like I’m going to overflow. I’ll sit and stare at my computer screen for what feels like hours. During these times I struggle with how best to express such huge emotions and feelings on a flat, stark white computer screen. And then it hits me: “Just start at the beginning.”
Here’s the beginning…
Keith Price opened for Kamasi and I was glad because he’s been on my radar for some time, but I’ve never seen him play live. He took the stage with his trio and I was instantly happy to see bassist, Julian Bradford on stage. I see Julian play a lot around Winnipeg and I’m never disappointed. I didn’t know the drummer at all and wondered who he was.
They opened with a cover of a St. Vincent song and then into Zoom Zoom. It had a wonderful feel; dreamy with tons of space in the song to float away. The drummer played one of the most appropriate solos which fit perfectly into the song.
I wrote “God, I love this song…” in my notebook and I struggled to breathe. Julian’s solo lost me a bit at the beginning, but grabbed me again near the end. The band used the space within the song to their advantage and the result was definite atmosphere all around the song. What a ride!
Next was a cover of Neil Young’s Old Man; again, played with amazing feel and respect for the song. It was mood music and I was in the mood. I loved the arrangement; it didn’t look like Keith was playing anything extraordinarily hard, but his groove was undeniable.
After that song he introduced drummer, Eric Platz who is a professor at Brandon University. I wasn’t surprised; he was phenomenal.
I didn’t catch the name of the last song, but it was more upbeat compared to the other songs, still laid back groovy though.
Keith and his trio put on a special performance and I loved it. I was left feeling content and comfortable.
Kamasi Washington and his band walked onto the pitch black stage and the crowd went crazy. They started to play and instantly I was jolted from my content and comfortable mood into a bit of irritation. I guess a full band with two drum kits being played simultaneously will do that too you. Compared to Keith’s set, it was all so…noisy. But I kept listening and at one point Kamasi made that horn scream and the drums were pounding and my whole body started tingling.
Bassist, Miles Mosley played the funkiest solo with his upright bass, a bow and a wah-wah pedal; it was then I realized this band has mastered “the build”. The build in songs is my weakness; my kryptonite. If it’s done well, I feel it EVERY time.
Almost every song Kamasi’s band played had multiple builds. I would be tingling from the last build, and then it would die down; and then the song would near the end and build once more, and I’d be tingling again. Good God, that band!
In between songs, Kamasi would introduce the band members, but most of the time the crowd was cheering so loud, I couldn’t catch their names. Thankfully he introduced them multiple times and also told humorous stories of how he met them.
He brought his Dad (saxophonist, Rickey Washington) out during their arrangement of Cherokee. It was a funky version and Miles played another really cool solo.
Moon Butter was written by keyboardist, Brandon Coleman and it had a Stevie Wonder vibe to it. He sang the song with a space age effect on his voice which was interesting. Trumpeter, Ryan Porter used some sort of pedal to make his trombone sound like a whole trombone section. Brandon’s solo on the keytar was spectacular.
Next it was the drummer’s turn in the limelight. Tony Austin and Ronald Bruner Jr. were fascinating to watch for two reasons: First, their stamina and chops were amazing; secondly, they played the same thing, but both a little differently. And it worked.
They played a lengthy solo together and then each took a turn to display their talents. It was one of the best drum solos I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen drum solos.
They ended with The Rhythm Changes which was really funky as well, but vocalist, Patrice Quinn’s contribution added a feminine touch to it. At one point she repeatedly called out “I’m here!” as the band gave it their all, which was a fantastic end to the song.
The band left the stage to a roaring standing ovation and then came back out for one last song. I think they could have come back for a second encore as not many people were leaving, but they left it at just the one encore.
As I was walking out, I overheard a young girl say, “I feel like that was the craziest show I’ve ever seen. I feel like that was epic.” I’m not sure if she knew that Kamasi’s album is called The Epic, but I hear you girl…and I agree.
Oh Jazz Winnipeg…how are you going to top this show? I don’t know if it’s possible.
P.S. I just realized I’m still wearing my musician ear plugs. I literally ran to my car, drove home and ran into the house to type this review.
TicketMOMster is a Rock and Jazz-loving Mom; single-handedly keeping Ticketmaster alive in Winnipeg. Follow her musical journey here: www.facebook.com/TicketMOMsters