Saxophonist, composer, band leader, production editor and more, Kamasi Washington is a a man who holds many a title. The American jazz musician was one of the many guests on Kendrick Lamar‘s highly successful, critically acclaimed, fan-adored album To Pimp a Butterfly. One of the many cross-over musicians to feature on the album, Washingston’s ability to move between genres, bringing jazz to places it might not otherwise go, is something akin to prolific.
Earlier this year he released his debut studio album, nearly three hours long, fittingly titled The Epic, via Flying Lotus’ genre-defying imprint Brainfeeder. As if that wasn’t enough for one year, the saxophonist can add another credit to his name: film composer. In his latest project, Washington has written the original score for short film Color Guard.
The film features a baby-sitting uncle (Jamie Granato) whose niece (Clover Nee) presses him to tell her an improvised version of “the same story” she’s heard, we presume, just about every night. He obliges, and tells her of a Guru Tiki Royal’s Color Camp For Adults in a world where there is an epidemic of colour-blindness affecting large numbers of adults. His improvised story focuses on the girl’s father Roland (Rory Scovel) who struggles even with the help of the camp to see colour once again. There’s a particularly great wrap up to the film, without wanting to give too much away, it features two of the greatest things ever: a mix CD and a road trip.
There are some familiar faces throughout the film, including Sarah Hagan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Freaks and Geeks fame, as well as New Zealand’s Grant Bowler. You can watch the entire 13.30 minute film to hear Washington’s score on YouTube.
We had a wonderful chat with Washington earlier this year about jazz, showing people that they like it, its relationship to hip-hop, and so much more. He was supposed to tour with the cancelled event Soulfest, so fingers crossed that he announces new dates soon.