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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


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.