Kamasi Washington

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Kamasi Washington
Kamasi Washington (2015).jpg
Washington at the BRIC JazzFest Marathon, Brooklyn, New York, 2015
Background information
Born (1981-02-18) February 18, 1981 (age 38)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Associated actsFlying Lotus, Ibeyi, Kendrick Lamar, Run the Jewels, Thundercat

Kamasi Washington (born February 18, 1981) is an American jazz saxophonist, composer, producer, and bandleader. Washington is known mainly for playing tenor saxophone.[1]


Kamasi Washington was born in Los Angeles, California, on February 18, 1981[2] to musical parents and educators, and was raised in Inglewood, California, he is a graduate of the Academy of Music of Alexander Hamilton High School in Beverlywood, Los Angeles.[1] Washington next enrolled in UCLA's Department of Ethnomusicology, where he began playing with faculty members such as Kenny Burrell, Billy Higgins and band leader/trumpeter Gerald Wilson. Washington features in the album Young Jazz Giants in 2004,[3] he has played along with a diverse group of musicians including Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Horace Tapscott, Gerald Wilson, Lauryn Hill, Nas, Snoop Dogg,[4] George Duke, Chaka Khan, Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Mike Muir, Francisco Aguabella, the Pan Afrikaan People's Orchestra and Raphael Saadiq.

Kamasi Washington performing at Coachella in 2016

Washington ventured into big band music when he joined the Gerald Wilson Orchestra for their 2005 album In My Time.[5] Washington played saxophone on Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly.[6] His debut solo recording, The Epic, was released in May 2015 to critical acclaim;[7] the mini-album/EP Harmony of Difference followed in September 2017. His second full-length studio album, Heaven and Earth, was released in June 2018, with a companion EP titled The Choice released a week later.


  • Winner, 1999: John Coltrane Music Competition


As leader[edit]

Studio albums


Live albums

As sideman[edit]

With Throttle Elevator Music

  • Throttle Elevator Music (Wide Hive, 2012)
  • Area J (Wide Hive, 2014)
  • Jagged Rocks (Wide Hive, 2015)
  • Throttle Elevator Music IV (Wide Hive, 2016)[11]

With the Gerald Wilson Orchestra


  1. ^ a b Serrano, Shea (2012-07-05). "Music Picks: Hootenanny, The Moonbeams, Kamasi Washington". Laweekly.com. Retrieved 2015-05-05.
  2. ^ Welch, Will. "Meet Kamasi Washington, the High Priest of Sax." GQ, January 5, 2016. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  3. ^ Kellman, Andy. "Kamasi Washington | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  4. ^ "Listen to Kamasi Washington Talk Kendrick, Coltrane, More With Marc Maron on "WTF"". Pitchfork.com. Retrieved 2016-09-30.
  5. ^ Blanco, Edward. "Gerald Wilson Orchestra: In My Time." Allaboutjazz.com, January 4, 2006.
  6. ^ Weiner, Natalie (March 26, 2015). "How Kendrick Lamar Transformed Into 'The John Coltrane of Hip-Hop' on 'To Pimp a Butterfly'". Billboard. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  7. ^ Colter Walls, Seth (8 May 2015). "Kamasi Washington: The Epic". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  8. ^ Thom Jurek. "The Epic – Kamasi Washington | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-05-05.
  9. ^ Wicks, Amanda (April 9, 2018). "Kamasi Washington Announces New Album Heaven and Earth". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  10. ^ "Kamasi Washington announces Harmony of Difference EP release on 12". Thevinylfactory.com. July 31, 2017. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  11. ^ "Throttle Elevator Music – Album Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 August 2016.

External links[edit]