Kamasi Washington

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Kamasi Washington
Washington at the 2015 BRIC JazzFest Marathon in Brooklyn, New York
Washington at the 2015 BRIC JazzFest Marathon in Brooklyn, New York
Background information
BornLos Angeles, California
InstrumentsSaxophone (usually tenor)
Years active2000–present
LabelsYoung Turks, XL, Brainfeeder
Associated actsFlying Lotus, Ibeyi, Kendrick Lamar, Run the Jewels, Thundercat, Dinner Party (band)

Kamasi Washington is an American jazz saxophonist, usually playing tenor saxophone.[1]


Washington was born in Los Angeles, California.[2] 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 bandleader/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.

Washington joined the Gerald Wilson Orchestra for its 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.[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.

Washington was featured in the final episode of Homeland as himself, performing a live show where protagonist Carrie Mathison was in the audience.

On June 25, 2020, Washington, Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper, and 9th Wonder announced the formation of the supergroup Dinner Party. They released a single, "Freeze Tag", and their debut extended play, Dinner Party, was released on July 10, 2020.[8]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Ceremony Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1999 John Coltrane Music Competition Won [9]
2015 Worldwide Winners Album of the Year The Epic Won [10]
2016 American Music Prize Won [11]
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Jazz Album Nominated [12]
Libera Awards Album of the Year Nominated [13][14]
Best Breakthrough Artist Nominated
Groundbreaking Album of the Year Won
Heritage Album of the Year Won
2018 UK Music Video Awards Best Urban Video - International "Street Fighter Mas" Nominated [15]
Libera Awards Best Jazz Album Harmony of Difference Won [16]
2019 Worldwide Winners Jazz Album of the Year Heaven and Earth Won [17]
Libera Awards Album of the Year Won [18]
Best Jazz Album Won
Creative Packaging Won
Video of the Year "Heaven & Earth" Nominated
Brit Awards International Male Solo Artist Himself Nominated [19]
UK Music Video Awards Best Alternative Video - International "Hub-tones" Nominated [20]
Best Special Video Project "As Told to g/d Thyself" Nominated
2020 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Music Composition for a Documentary
Series or Special (Original Dramatic Score)
Becoming Nominated [21]
Libera Awards Best Sync Usage Music in Apple Shot on iPhone XS commercial Nominated [22]
2021 Grammy Awards Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media Becoming Pending [23]


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)[27]
  • Emergency Exit (Wide Hive, 2020)

With the Gerald Wilson Orchestra


  1. ^ a b Serrano, Shea (2012-07-05). "Music Picks: Hootenanny, The Moonbeams, Kamasi Washington". Laweekly.com. Archived from the original on 2015-07-09. Archived July 9, 2015.
  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. ^ "Hear The New Supergroup From Kamasi Washington, Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper, And 9th Wonder". Stereogum. 2020-06-25. Retrieved 2020-06-25.
  9. ^ "Five Fun Facts: Kamasi Washington". Live Nation. February 27, 2018. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  10. ^ Bonnell, Emily (March 3, 2020). "Kamasi Washington draws inspiration from former jazz icons". Jazz.fm. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  11. ^ Weiner, Natalie (March 7, 2016). "Kamasi Washington on Winning First-Ever American Music Prize & How Jazz Doesn't Have to Be 'Daunting'". Billboard. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  12. ^ "'Straight Outta Compton,' 'Empire,' Michael B. Jordan Top NAACP Image Awards". Variety. February 5, 2016. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  13. ^ "SoundExchange Presents The 2016 A2IM Libera Awards". Shorefire. April 11, 2016. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  14. ^ White, Caitlin (June 17, 2016). "Alabama Shakes And Kamasi Washington Win Big At The Independent Music Awards". Brooklyn Magazine. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  15. ^ "UK Music Video Awards 2018: all the nominations!". Promo News. September 27, 2018. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  16. ^ Aswad, Jem (June 22, 2018). "Aimee Mann, Funky Four +1 Perform, Slowdive Wins Big at Indie Libera Awards". Variety. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  17. ^ "Worldwide Awards 2019". Gilles Peterson Worldwide. February 1, 2019. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  18. ^ Houghton, Bruce (June 24, 2019). "A2IM Libera Indie Music Awards 2019 – Full Winners List". Hypebot. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  19. ^ "Full list of Brit awards 2019 winners". The Guardian. February 20, 2019. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  20. ^ Garner, George (September 26, 2019). "UK Music Video Awards 2019 nominations revealed". Music Week. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  21. ^ Strauss, Matthew (July 28, 2020). "Trent Reznor, Kamasi Washington, RZA, More Nominated for 2020 Emmys". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  22. ^ Brandle, Lars (April 2, 2020). "Chance the Rapper, FKA Twigs, Courtney Barnett & More Shortlisted For 2020 A2IM Libera Awards". Billboard. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
  23. ^ William, Chris. "Grammy Awards Nominations 2021: The Complete List". Variety. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  24. ^ Thom Jurek. "The Epic – Kamasi Washington | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-05-05.
  25. ^ Wicks, Amanda (April 9, 2018). "Kamasi Washington Announces New Album Heaven and Earth". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  26. ^ "Kamasi Washington announces Harmony of Difference EP release on 12". Thevinylfactory.com. July 31, 2017. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  27. ^ "Throttle Elevator Music – Album Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 August 2016.

External links[edit]