Saxophonist Kamasi Washington connected with Kendrick Lamar arranging horns on "To Pimp A Butterfly." This door opening for him set his career on flight from going from a jazz musician to a successful crossover hip hop interpreter as a horn player. He sees his horn as part of his attire and even an extension of himself. His style of playing is progressive with a yearning for new melodies discovered in real time. Fans know of his work as a solid improviser in jazz fusion and hip hop. There are several influences that contribute to his style and musical choices. Here are five things you didn't know about Kamasi Washington.
Kamasi studied and played with faculty members like Kenny Burrell, Billy Higgins and Gerald Wilson. This educational experience expanded his understanding of the universal reach of music as a global form of expression.
Snoop Dogg took Kamasi Washington on tour with him playing in his horn section. This break opened for him when Kamasi was studying at UCLA.
Kamasi discovered his passion in jazz when he was introduced to jazz in elementary school listening to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. He gave it thought and came up with a way to fuse both jazz and hip hop for contemporary appeal.
At the age of 13, Washington told his father that he wanted to be a jazz musician. It was during this time that he discovered his voice as a saxophonist.
Kamasi Washington was raised in the city of Inglewood. Kamasi spent much time hanging out in Leimert Park where he jammed often during his formative season in improvised sessions. He was influenced by a circle of drummers that played freestyle as a unit in Leimert Park.