Words matter. These are the best Kamasi Washington Quotes, and they’re great for sharing with your friends.
I can’t really worry about nuclear war any more than I can worry about the aliens coming.
At the time of ‘The Epic,’ as a core band, we were all spending so much time apart making music for other people that by the time we got together – even though we grew up together and there’s a special connection we have – it was like a rare privilege to come together.
There’s this notion that music has to be confined to some small, simple place to be popular, something I never believed.
So much good music has been looked over because of preconceived notions of genre.
I went to a music academy in Los Angeles, and some friends started playing me Ravel and Prokofiev, who I liked, but what really blew me away was ‘The Rite of Spring.’ That’s what made me get interested in classical music for real and want to study it.
We learned at a young age, with our dad, that even if you weren’t doing something, you had to look like you were, or some hard labor was coming your way. That’s the reason I started practicing music – when I was practicing, Pops left me alone.
American music comes from the same tree, but sometimes we get to these places in history where we forget where things come from, and they get compartmentalized.
I started playing drums at three, then piano at five, then clarinet. But it wasn’t till I picked up a saxophone aged 13 that I really got serious about music.
West Coast hip hop was the sound of my neighbourhood. It was something I could relate to because it had a sound that felt like my surroundings – almost more so than what they were saying. That music was made to be bumped in a Cadillac!
Los Angeles has always been overlooked as far as jazz, and just high-level music in general. But, like, my dad’s a musician, so I’ve grown up around so many brilliant musicians that nobody outside Los Angeles knows about.
We’ve played so many places where, if you asked people, ‘Do you like jazz?’ they would be like, ‘Not at all.’ But I think that if you’re really putting yourself out there and really communicating, music can put you beyond people’s preconceptions, beyond their playlist.
As musicians, we have one of the greatest tools of bringing people together in music.
Every time you learn a new language, your understanding of language overall grows, so every time I would learn new music, my understanding of music would grow because I was taken to an extreme in a different direction, and that was, in effect, carrying over into what I do.
There’s a deeper level of healing that needs to happen for the world in general. There’s a mass of people who are broken.
We do have the power to kind of make this world what we want it to be. But we have to just choose to do it ourselves and not wait for someone else.
When you’re making music, you’re creeping up on your heart and pouring it out into something.
I’m trying to just keep pushing on the things I’ve been wanting to do in my life and in music. And think of new things to do!
I think L.A. has one of the most innovative and forward-thinking jazz scenes in the world. New York definitely has the volume – there’s more music happening in New York than anywhere else. But to me, L.A. – it’s kind of a gift and a curse.
The fact of the matter is that nobody understands what John Coltrane is doing except John Coltrane. And maybe not even him. So we’re all experiencing it on this subconscious level.
L.A. has always been hated on so much. I remember, the first time I went to New York, I was at jam sessions, and people would hear me and come up to me and be like, ‘Oh wow, you’re from L.A.? Really?’
I grew up with a sense of music being a very spiritual experience while playing in church and with parents who were socially aware, always teaching me to look beyond the obvious in understanding how the world works.
I was hearing music in my head and trying to play it on the clarinet, but it didn’t match.’ Then, literally the first day, it did with the saxophone. I was like, ‘Oh man, that’s what I’ve been trying to do; this is what it’s supposed to sound like.’
The song ‘Leroy and Lanisha’ on my album ‘The Epic’ is really my homage to ‘Linus and Lucy.’
I think the open mind is the one that’s reachable.
This precious thing of empathy and love and understanding is something we have to hold and appreciate and protect.
I started playing with this band, the Polyester Players. It was my introduction into funk. So I went and got a James Brown record. ‘Black Caesar’ is a film score, but it’s so dope.
In a lot of ways, I feel like I’m just taking the music that comes to me and trying to make it as beautiful as I can. You can’t really predict or control how people will receive that music.
L.A. is a big city that has a lot of music in it but is not necessarily known for it. A lot of musicians got lost in that. You can make a living; you can gig a lot within the city and never get out of it. That was something that me and my friends, our generation, were afraid of happening to us.
I wanted to be a positive force in the world.
All John Coltrane’s records are amazing.
The idea of the beauty of diversity came from just growing up where I grew up. Los Angeles is a very big city – there’s Little Ethiopia, Little Armenia, Little Tokyo, Chinatown, there’s African-Americans, Latinos, Europeans.
Hip-hop is a collage. It samples from all different styles of music.
When I was working on ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ and ‘DAMN.,’ I’m really making music for Kendrick. It’s a different mindset than when I’m making music for me. I’m trying to get into his head and figure out what he wants because it’s his vision. That’s what I expect from people when they’re playing on my records.
My third day playing saxophone, I was in front of a congregation. I still didn’t know the names of all the notes. I was playing by ear, following along, but it was such an encouraging environment, I couldn’t fail. It was all, ‘Yeah baby, you sound real good’ no matter what you play. It was a great way to learn.
All forms are complex once you get to a really high level, and jazz and hip-hop are so connected. In hip-hop, you sample, while in jazz, you take Broadway tunes and turn them into something different. They’re both forms that repurpose other forms of music.
My hope is that witnessing the beautiful harmony created by merging different musical melodies will help people realize the beauty in our own differences.
Hip-hop and jazz have always been intertwined. Even the G-funk thing. You listen to ‘The Chronic,’ there’s flute solos and everything. It’s always been there.
Music doesn’t come out of you, it comes through you. You are almost like a messenger.
Music is this medium to express who I am and what I’ve been through and my thoughts and what my feelings on the world are. We’re all on the planet together; I’m just using this medium to express how I see it.
When I was younger, I’d be walking down the street and suddenly panic because I had a cool idea and no way of getting it down – I’d have to sing it all the way home. Now I can hum it into my phone.
When you bring multiple cultures together, there’s a degree of push and pull.
We’ve now got a whole generation of jazz musicians who have been brought up with hip-hop. We’ve grown up alongside rappers and DJs; we’ve heard this music all our life. We are as fluent in J Dilla and Dr Dre as we are in Mingus and Coltrane.
By the time I was about 15, I was out playing gigs and knew I was going to be a musician.
Fela Kuti blew my mind. His playing is very unorthodox, but I learned how to appreciate that.
Jazz is a part of me.
I feel like I’m musically free to do what I want.
One of the things I did learn from ‘The Epic’ was that we don’t have to feel so much pressure to conform to set formats. A song doesn’t have to be three minutes and 30 seconds.
I like living on that edge, musically. I like a bit of insecurity and that feeling of not really knowing what’s going to happen.
In the ’80s, a lot of kids, if you were kind of bright, you got bussed to schools out of your community. So you wouldn’t know the talented musicians who lived around the corner from you.
Isaac Smith sounded like Curtis Fuller, Corey Hogan sounded like Sonny Rollins, Terrace Martin sounded like Jackie McLean. Already, at 13, 14, 15 years old.
Funk could very easily be called jazz, but you call it funk. Does that really matter? People dig that they associate themselves with certain genres, but the genres to me are made up things, like an imaginary world.
I’ve had experiences where people say, ‘I hated jazz before I heard you guys!’ I’m like, ‘You didn’t hate jazz before you heard us; you hated the idea of jazz.’
I have to always check back in with my imagination just to remember that I have this infinite potential, and I can do anything, and anything is possible.
When I was younger… we used to go to this place called Rexall to play ‘Street Fighter.’ At Rexall, there would be different people from different hoods there playing the game. It was the one place that was like an equalizer. It was just about how good you were at ‘Street Fighter.’
Pages: 1 2