Kamasi Washington Blows The Roof Off The Powerstation

Kamasi Washington – Powerstation March 16, 2018

It’ll be a long time until The Powerstation hosts another show as powerful, beautiful and transcendent as the one Kamasi Washington and his band put on last night.

I saw Kamasi perform a few years ago at Auckland City Limits a couple of years ago, but as impressive as that show was, it only showed a fraction of what the LA-based saxophonist is capable of.

This nearly two-hour set was one of the finest shows I have seen in years.

Washington was joined on stage by new-comer Ryan Porter on trombone, but the rest of the band was comprised of musicians who Kamasi has played with for years, some of them he’d known since he was a toddler.

These included keyboard player Brandon Coleman, who Washington referred to as “a musical genius”. He went on to heap praise on his friend, claiming that, “no matter how good the song is, if you put Brandon on it, it gets better”, resulting in the nickname, “Hot Sauce”.

Then there is the rhythm section of bassist Joshua Crumbly and “two of the coldest drummers in the whole wide world”.

It turns out Kamasi has known both drummers, Robert Miller and Ronald Bruner, Jr, since they were all about three. Of course Bruner’s little brother is known now as Thundercat, and appeared at ACL just a week or so ago.

Rounding out the band is vocalist Patrice Quinn, who, in addition to adding voice to Washington’s music, serves as a visual focus during the show with her dramatic and demonstrative dancing.

I could go on about how amazing each of these musicians are, but it is the sound of them playing together that really turns into something special…a funky, heady mix of jazz, soul and blues, with a positive message of inclusion and diversity.

I’m struggling to come up with a highlight simply because the entire set felt like one long highlight with each tune falling naturally into the next.

By the time they were finished, it was 11:30 and time to go, Washington and his band having played their hearts out. Yet, even as they trundled off stage, I saw Kamasi hesitate, put his sax to his mouth and consider playing just a little longer.

But time had run out…for now. Hopefully he and his crew will be back soon.

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Reuben Raj:

Kamasi Washington set list:

  1. Change Of The Guard
  2. The Magnificent 7
  3. Henrietta Our Hero
  4. Giant Feelings
  5. Drum Duet
  6. Truth
  7. The Rhythm Changes