"The Epic" by Kamasi Washington

10 October 2019

Kamasi Washington is a jazz artist with what seems to be big dreams in mind. Incorporating different forms of jazz like big band, smooth jazz, and free form, he’s got some talent.

“The Epic” is several hours’ worth of diverse sounds. Yep, it’s no wonder they call it epic. Not only are half the tracks epic in length, but the entire album is three hours long, includes 17 tracks, and no track is shorter than six minutes.

Most of the album is free form and smooth jazz; Washington (also the saxophonist and band’s frontman) has written some great songs here. Expect the solos to be mostly improv, and their complexity peaks at the free form sections of the album. Most of the solos are on the sax or piano.

I would suggest listening to the album for an hour at a time, not all at once. There aren’t a lot of vocals, although they’re not completely absent from the album. In fact, tracks like “Cherokee,” “Malcolm’s Theme,” and “Henrietta Our Hero” have what seem to be almost entirely female vocals – they seem to work best in any jazz music, and they do here for sure.

Does “The Epic” have flaws? What album doesn’t? I do think the musicians could try changing up some of their flows a bit. Also, unless it’s supposed to be a drum solo, the drum work could be toned down, if you ask me. Yeah, it is jazz music so polyrhythms and other fancy time signature tricks are to be expected, but this isn’t Tool or Meshuggah – rock bands where the loud drumming is constant. This only applies to the smooth jazz segments – just so I don’t concern you too much.

I give this album 9/10

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