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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


Kenny Garrett – Songbook
This came out at a point when I hadn't got into any modern jazz. A friend of mine had Songbook on tape and he played it in my car one day. It was so dope I bought the CD. Two days later Kenny Garrett came to the University of Southern California and played a concert and it completely blew my mind. It took jazz out of the past and put it in the present for me. I realised it's not just music from then but that it's about NOW. This was as dope as my John Coltrane records but it was from the present day! And that was important for me.

Kenny comes from a similar place to me. There are elements of other styles in there, also that real heavy John Coltrane school of jazz, along with gospel. He's kind of funky and also has this harmonic dance rhythm, like what I was into. With the combination of all those things, he was speaking my language.

When my friends and I were young, we were so hyped about music. I was so blessed my parents were cool and let me do my own thing. My friend and I wanted to go to every concert and jam session but we didn't have any money. Kenny Garrett would come to town and play from Tuesday to Saturday and we would go every single night. We didn't have any money so we'd tell the club we were on the drummer's list and we'd come back next day and say the same thing. We didn't care. We didn't let the situation stop us from getting to the music.