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Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth

We don’t know how many Quentin Tarantino movies Kamasi Washington has seen in his life. It also remains unclear whether the director had any influence at all on the much-vaunted jazz innovator, but in the end it doesn't matter what the musician Washington thinks of Tarantino. As listener of his second album "Heaven and Hell", which has been released with great publicity, one feels reminded of the past several times, but at the same time also touched in a nostalgic way – just as “Pulp Fiction” or “Inglourious Basterds” once succeeded.

Moreover, just like Tarantino, Washington manages by clever recombination to breathe new life into a style that has been declared dead. When discussing how much innovation an album like “Heaven and Earth” really achieves, it is not advisable to refer to soloist performances or to argue with the density of influences. This record is thrilling again because it understands jazz as a means of agitation, spirituality and pulsating vitality – but also of historical tradition. The songs are connected not least by a feeling of greatness. How else could one hold together an album that is more than opulent with about 145 minutes? Memories of soundtracks resonate from the massive opening “Fists of Fury” and are preserved when the songs become ethereal (“The Space Travelers Lullaby”) or even tricky (“One Of One”).

In purely structural terms, the plate also benefits from its dichotomy, the metaphysical concept of which does not have to be bought in order to see the double arc of tension generated. The climax of this versatile, usually worthwhile record is then also its last quarter, with ever-clearer gospel influences, a good feeling for the power behind fusion and the knowledge of the productive nervousness that only jazz can realize in this form in pieces like “The Psalmnist”. Especially in these moments, in which all strengths interlock, the real relevance of this record and the musician behind it is revealed.

This record is thrilling again 

Track List

1    Fists Of Fury
2    Can You Hear Him
3    Hub-Tones
4    Connections
5    Tiffakonkae
6    The Invincible Youth
7    Testify
8    One Of One
9    The Space Travelers Lullaby
10   Vi Lua Vi Sol
11   Street Fighter Mas
12   Song For The Fallen
13   Journey
14   The Psalmnist