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“Heaven & Earth” by Kamasi Washington

“Heaven & Earth” by Kamasi Washington

Live in Portland October 18, 2018 | Crystal Ballroom

Kamasi Washington is not one for brevity. His latest double LP, Heaven & Earth, set to be released later this month, is another two-and-a-half hour journey through the realms of the world and the mind—a follow-up to his equally grandiose 2015 debut, The Epic, which, true-to-form, pretty much set the bar upon its release for headyness and musical density in contemporary jazz.

The idea of reviewing an album like this in 200 words is frankly laughable, and that’s kinda the point—Washington’s goal with each release seems to be aggressively and diametrically opposed to the culture of the fleeting, the attention span pathetically withered in the dim light of the screen.

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Heaven & Earth is an exploration of the self comprised of two disks, one representing interior and the other exterior, each an odyssey in its own right. The Earth disk, presented first, contains a more straight ahead kind of jazz, while Heaven opens up into a looser and more forward-thinking sonic realm, a kind of consciousness expansion captured here in sound. Both disks require something of the listener, a kind of work that seems less and less demanded by our art these days, but which, if we’re willing, might lead us beyond the confines of what we thought we knew, out into a larger space, and beyond.