Los Angeles-based jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington held all-day album release party for his latest composition Heaven and Earth in Leimert Park Village on June 21. Thousands of fans converged in Leimert Park Village for the events which concluded with two free late-night concerts at the World Stage.
Heaven and Earth is a follow-up to Washington’s critically acclaimed three-disc The Epic, a nearly three-hour album described as an extravagant love letter to jazz. Before becoming a jazz tour de force in his own right, Washington performed and toured with a variety of artists including Snoop Dogg, Raphael Saddiq, McCoy Tyner, George Duke and most notably contributed to Kendrick Lamar’s landmark album To Pimp a Butterfly.
Washington’s Leimert Park tour began with a talkback at Barbara Morrison’s Jazz Museum. He was joined by poet and World Stage co-founder Kamau Daaood. The two spoke about tradition, mentorship and passing the torch. Daaood recounted Leimert Park’s rich legacy of music, spoken word and black culture.
Washington answered several questions about his artistic process, including the development of Harmony of Difference, his multimedia installation presented at the New York’s Whitney Museum of Art’s 2017 Biennial.
“Difference is not an issue to be dealt with, it’s a beautiful thing to celebrate,” explained Washington.
Next, Washington went next door to Ride On! Bike shop and flaunted his inner gamer by hosting a “Street Fighter” video game competition. As a kid, Washington believed he was the greatest Street Fighter in the world the song Street Fighter Mas on his new album is a reminder of the infinite potential of imagination.
A few doors down from Ride On! Washington stopped at EsoWon Books where he spent two hours chatting with fans and signing Heaven and Earth CDs and albums.
Washington ended the day with two 90-minute performances at The World stage. Lines wrapped around the block as eager fans waited patiently to get into the 100-capacity venue. In the end, many opted for watching the concert on jumbo trons sitting on couches and chairs set-up outside.
Whether inside or out, Washington’s loyal followers left the show ecstatic about their experience. For the saxophonist, the performance at the World Stage was like a homecoming.
“My whole philosophy was formed here,” said Washington who grew up playing jazz in Leimert Park under the tutelage of his father saxophonist Rickey Washington.
“It’s like being back home. It feels like a refill, to get to what fueled me into music in the first place.”