Kamasi Washington

3rd August 2021

We’re revisiting our conversation with Kamasi Washington, one of the greatest living saxophone players. In the studio, he’s played saxophone and arranged for hitmakers like Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, Run The Jewels, Snoop Dogg – and that’s just naming a handful. On his own, he’s a visionary bandleader with over half a dozen solo records to his name. He broke through in 2015, with his three hour long instant classic The Epic – a record that found its way to a bunch of top ten lists. These days, he’s getting back to playing live music. With a handful of shows on the horizon all over North America this fall. Kamasi Washington talks about his time playing sax in bands, as a composer and bandleader. Plus, he’ll reflect on one of his first major gigs with Snoop Dogg and collaborating with Kendrick Lamar on To Pimp A Butterfly. Of course, we also dive into his nearly unbeatable Street Fighter II skills. This interview originally aired in November of 2018.

Episode notes

(Photo: Jesse Thorn / Maximum Fun)

The saxophone player on creating eclectic, transcendent jazz music

Kamasi Washington is a generational talent. Possibly one of the greatest living saxophone players.

In the studio, he’s played saxophone and arranged for hitmakers like Kendrick Lamar, Run The Jewels, and Snoop Dogg. He’s also collaborated with Thundercat, St Vincent, Flying Lotus, Robert Glaspar – and that’s just naming a handful.

But to define Kamasi Washington by the people he’s collaborated with is doing him a disservice. On his own, he’s a visionary bandleader with over half a dozen solo records to his name. He broke through in 2015, with his three hour long instant classic The Epic – a record that found its way to a bunch of top ten lists.

If you fell in love with the work of Alice Coltrane or Pharoah Sanders, you’ll hear something familiar in Kamasi’s music. Like them, Kamasi writes songs from a transcendent – almost spiritual place. It’s strange and lush, there’s usually a melody that hypnotizes you.

These days, he’s getting back to playing live music. With a handful of shows on the horizon all over North America this fall.

Kamasi Washington talks about his time playing sax in bands, as a composer and bandleader. Plus, he’ll reflect on one of his first major gigs with Snoop Dogg and collaborating with Kendrick Lamar on To Pimp A Butterfly. Of course, we also dive into his nearly unbeatable Street Fighter II skills.

This interview originally aired in November of 2018.

In this episode...

Producer
Associate Producer
Maximum Fun Production Fellow
Maximum Fun Production Fellow

Guests

  • Kamasi Washington

About the show

Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture.

Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney’s, which called it “the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world.” Since April 2013, the show has been distributed by NPR.

If you would like to pitch a guest for Bullseye, please CLICK HERE. You can also follow Bullseye on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. For more about Bullseye and to see a list of stations that carry it, please click here.

People

Producer

Associate Producer

Maximum Fun Production Fellow

Maximum Fun Production Fellow

How to listen

Stream or download episodes directly from our website, or listen via your favorite podcatcher!

Share this show

New? Start here...

Liked Kamasi Washington? Listen to these next...