Kamasi Washington at Roundhouse, review – the master of cosmic jazz takes it to the stars

In cosmic jazz, afrofuturism evolved differently, with the concept of space taking on a consciousness-expanding quality. Here, Washington took the opportunity to introduced The Space Travelers Lullaby, the first of two new numbers from his forthcoming album Heaven and Earth, with a meditation on looking up at the stars. Tenor sax and trombone became twin rocket boosters as Washington and sidekick Ryan Porter blasted off from a trippy, Sixties-sounding base.

There has been an attempt to move afrofuturism on from the tropes of Sun Ra, though, and there was a turning away from its peace-and-love philosophy towards a militant consciousness in Washington’s second new song, Fists of Fury (title courtesy of the Bruce Lee movie).

“Our time as victims is over,” sang vocalist Patrice Quinn, “We will no longer ask for justice / Instead we will take our retribution.”

Quinn has a certain “Marsha Hunt and the cast of Hair” quality to her singing, but it was an incendiary performance by the band, ruled by funk. Washington brought on his father Rickey, also a professional jazz musician, to play flute with him. At one point, during twin drum solos, the sound blurred with the speed of the playing, as if the venue was filled with the sound of hummingbirds’ wings.

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