Kamasi Washington: The Epic

A magnum opus of 21st-century jazz from a Kendrick Lamar pal

Kamasi Washington Credit: Mike Park

Part of an exploding network of L.A. visionaries, Kamasi Washington is the sax-wielding jazz guru on recent masterpieces by Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus. Now he's made one of his own — a three-disc debut on FlyLo's label with a 10-piece band, plus choir and strings. To be sure, it's a jazz album, as much about tradition as expanding it, informed by Coltranes (John and Alice), Miles Davis fusions, bebop and more; yet it's clearly shaped by crate-digger funk and film scores, hip-hop collage and gospel. Patrice Quinn's incantatory soul vocals ground stretches of remarkably mobile group improv. But the MVP may be electric bassist Thundercat, a low-end guitar hero extraordinaire.