Kamasi Washington Harmony of Difference Young Turks
Originally premiered as part of the Whitney Museum of American Art 2017 Biennial, Harmony Of Difference is a six-part suite of startlingly suggestive music that explores counterpoint not just as a musical concept, but as ‘the art of balancing similarity and difference to create harmony’. You shouldn’t need prodding to realise the deeper significances Kamasi Washington is aiming to draw out of the counterpoint idea – politically and socially, this music feels needed right now.
At no point however does Harmony of Difference sound hectoring or preachy – it’s a sublimely seductive, instantaneous delight from start to finish. Desire is silky, broken-beat jazz that ripples with an almost boom-bap pulse, with Washington’s tenor taking the melodic lead as dazzling Rhodes-runs skitter around the peripheries.
Humility careens into the city streets hitching its darting speed and big-band pizzazz to a rhythmic chassis of real grace and power, before Knowledge rattles out on an almost bucolic/pastoral vibe, heavily recalling Quincy Jones soundtracks and the spacier reaches of Billy Cobham’s work. Perspective, like the other tracks, moves through its melodic and harmonic ideas swiftly – the rhythm a cresting wave, breaking on the shore, then settling into a nice full-phat Earth Wind & Fire-style stomp.
The EP’s highlight Truth takes all the melodic ideas expressed in the other five tracks and melds them into 13 minutes of wonder. So confident does Kamasi’s band sound with the music they’re creating and, crucially, the ideas they’re coalescing, that this EP emerges not just as a coherent statement but a necessary statement of healing, beauty and honesty for an America in dire need of all three. Celebratory, compassionate and arguably Kamasi Washington’s best work yet.