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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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Gerald Wilson Orchestra ‎– The Golden Sword (Torero Impressions In Jazz)
I was a fan of Gerald Wilson in high school. I was in a programme called The L.A. Multi School Jazz Band. There were lots of kids from South Central LA but also kids from the west side. A lot of the music we'd play was the music of Gerald Wilson.

In my ears, I always heard a dance harmonic sensibility, even when I was a kid. When I heard Gerald Wilson's seven/eight/nine-part harmonies, it really resonated with me. When I got to college I got to play with him and also record with him as well. That was huge for me.

I also found out that he lived right around the corner from where I grew up. He was kind of blind later in life and he told me that he used to hear me practising but he couldn't find me. He couldn't figure out where I was. He said, "Man, that was you? I used to walk around trying to find that saxophone I could hear."

There's a song on there called 'Carlos'. He wrote it for a bullfighter. It had this slow build-up with a really cool ostinato kind of feel to it that I have with my music as well. He wasn't an ethnomusicologist but he married a Mexican woman and she exposed him to her culture and that inspired his music. It was the first record where he was making music from that experience of when he went to Mexico. Mexican culture is definitely a big part of Los Angeles.


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