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Baker's Dozen

Thirteen Prayers: Kamasi Washington's Favourite Albums
Paul Smith , May 18th, 2016 11:43

Before he embarks on a summer of touring following his excellent 2015 album The Epic, the saxophonist and bandleader makes some difficult decisions to give Paul Smith 13 albums that affected his musical approach

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Ali Akbar Khan ‎– Legacy
That was another one I got into at college. I was an ethnomusicology major. I had always known that John Coltrane was into the music of India but I never really found an artist that I connected with like that. I was in a class where we were transcribing music from around the world. I was in the music library and I found that album and I transcribed a couple of songs. I had to learn the whole form and approach to the way they played music and it affected me on an almost more direct level than with Fela. I started to think about my solos in that way, announcing harmonically what you're doing and then you get a really cool blueprint about how to form certain kinds of solos.

It hit me in my head and also emotionally. Fela was more conceptual, although I ended up playing Afrobeat stuff later and drawing from all that rhythm he has on top of it. With Ali Akbar it was like, "Oh man, I could use this structure for a beautiful approach." Fela was giving me one thing, this was giving me something else, but they were pouring into the same vessel.


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