Kamasi Washington
Harmony of Difference



by Haygoody USER (21 Reviews)
October 18th, 2017 | 0 replies

Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A vision of unity

Kamasi Washington stands as one of the leading voices in today’s jazz culture. Having collaborated with prominent names in hip-hop like Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus, the west-coast tenor saxophonist and composer took the music world by storm in 2015 with the critically acclaimed, ambitiously-long jazz fusion project aptly named “The Epic.” With these achievements under his belt, Washington has sought to focus his attention to the conceptual on his latest release, “Harmony of Difference.”

Spanning a concise thirty-one minute run time, “Harmony of Difference” presents itself as a clear departure from Washington’s past projects. The album is composed of five short, yet distinct tracks whose elements convene and blend with one another to form its final epic piece: “Truth”.

The majority of tracks within “Harmony” lay out warm, flowing soundscapes to which Washington layers whimsical horn-fueled melodies that carry each sketch. Due to the shorter length of the songs, the listener is provided with immediately impactful grooves and refrains that lay the foundation for compact solos from a variety of the band’s personnel, including keyboard, trombone, and trumpet.

The album’s opening track, “Desire,” carries the listener through a soothing, laid-back vista lead by Washington’s sultry tenor sax refrains. The track flows seamlessly into “Humility,” which turns up the energy with a bold fanfare of a chorus over a turbulent rhythm. The solos on this sketch are the album’s most forceful, with chaotic blasting trumpet phrases and wailing saxophone reminiscent of John Coltrane’s ambitious playing style. “Perspective” opens with a free flowing prelude that leads into a cool Caribbean-flared groove to accompany Washington’s radiant hook.

The flowing collection of these succinct songs carries “Harmony” to its final thirteen-minute epic of “Truth.” The track begins with an introspective piano rhythm pulled from the first song, “Desire.” Different elements eventually get added to the building rhythm until it reaches a grand orchestral climax complete with sweeping strings and a soulful choir to close out the album.

In an interview with Wetransfer Studios, Washington explains his motivations in structuring “Harmony of Difference,” stating, “You hear these pieces and like them and enjoy them as individuals, but then they come together. The sixth piece is a shared experience. I hope that the metaphor works and it makes people think about what that reality is.”

That reality painted by Kamasi Washington in this project rings true to the current struggles and affairs of humanity as we attempt to reconcile different cultures and backgrounds into a shared experience of glorious magnitude. “Harmony of Difference” allows listeners to actively meditate on the short sketches that Washington provides and understand the individual function of each in the overarching theme of unity that they produce.

Notable Tracks: Desire, Humility, Perspective, Truth

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