Greetings from your newest music reviewer Samantha Charles - gig buddy of Outsideleft’s Jason Lewis. We bonded over a love of slightly alternative music in general, but I somehow managed to persuade him to add The Bee Gees to his playlists!
We went to see Kamasi Washington and supports at the O2 Institute in Birmingham and although our old joints suffered standing in the stalls for 4 hours, it was an epic night.
The evening opened with Oscar Jerome - a young artist with a cracking voice and superbly funky jazz band. He quotes influences including hip hop, jazz, soul and punk and it shows. This is a new wave of young experimental jazz and it makes you want to dance with the stranger next to you who, by the end of the second song, becomes a firm friend. This is feel good music.
Next up was Yussef Dayes, jazz percussionist and one half of celebrated jazz-funk duo Yussef-Kamaal. The feel good music continued with this incredible drummer leading a band of young musicians including an incredible young musician on keyboards. I turned to Jason and said “THE KID ON KEYBOARDS!” He replied “I want to be the kid on keyboards!” Another guy next to him said “I want to be the kid on keyboards too!” So much talent in this beautiful band who blew the crowd away with their sometimes spacey experimental jazz compositions.
Finally we were treated to Kamasi Washington and his band of school friends on keyboards, trombone, double bass, two sets of drums and his dad on clarinet and flute and a wonderful singer in Patrice Quinn. These superb musicians are all successful in their own rights as solo artists and although Kamasi was the leader of the band on this occasion, each was showcased with their own improvisations throughout the night.
The set began with Street Fighter Mas from Heaven and Earth. A friendly mosh formed at the front of the room and boy did we get down and groove.
One of the highlights of the set was keyboardist Brandon Coleman’s composition Giant Feelings - a beautiful love song reminiscent of Stevie Wonder - huge in its heart and soul.
After a journey of almost unbearable coolness in the presence of those California Cats who visited us in Birmingham much too briefly, the night ended with the epic Fists of Fury: “Our time as victims is over/We will no longer ask for justice/ Instead, we will take our retribution”. Indeed!
Kamasi, the new King of Jazz recently said “people are learning the value of what jazz represents: ideas of musicianship and allowing multitudes of people to express themselves within your show. It’s growing. Once you kind of get a taste of that, it’s hard to go back.”
I don’t want to go back. Jazz is now a big part of my life.
Kamasi Washington live on KEXP, Seattle