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by Chris Borton
posted 10/10/2019

Review: Kamasi Washington

Wednesday 9th October @ Sydney Opera House at 9pm

Reviewed by Chris Borton

Powerhouse US saxophonist Kamasi Washington and his band gave a concert at The Sydney Opera House Concert Hall last night in the only Sydney concert of their current tour and held the audience spellbound. What a tour de force!

There were 8 performers on stage with some exemplary musicians amongst them. I would single out the 2 blazing drummers for special mention – I do not often take special notice of the drummer(s) in a band but this pair were amazing! Robert Miller Jr and Ronald Bruner drove the sound with solos and duets of great dynamism and technical skill. At one point all the other band members left the stage to the 2 drummers who captivated the capacity crowd.

The heavily amplified double bass was magnificent in its frequent solos and drove the rhythm section when in company. The keyboard work of Brandon Coleman was a highlight.

Kamasi as leader bantered with the crowd and led from the front on tenor saxophone.

For me, the challenges were the female vocalist, Patrice Quinn, and the father of Kamasi who played saxophone and flute. Both were let down by the sound mix and struggled to be heard even in solos.

But, overall, a wonderful concert full of musical highlights, whether in free jazz improv or in the ballad interludes, a compelling mix of funk and African beats with spiritualism, such as on the beautiful song Truth. In sum, the very essence of modern, contemporary jazz. Be sure to catch him next time!

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