Detailed Pedia

Kamasi Washington

Kamasi Washington
Washington in 2017
Washington in 2017
Background information
Born1981 (age 39–40)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
InstrumentsSaxophone (usually tenor)
Years active2000–present
Associated acts

Kamasi Washington (born 1981) is an American jazz saxophonist, usually playing tenor saxophone.


Washington was born in 1981 and raised in Los Angeles, California. He is a graduate of the Academy of Music of Alexander Hamilton High School in Beverlywood, Los Angeles. Washington next enrolled in UCLA's Department of Ethnomusicology, where he began playing with faculty members such as Kenny Burrell, Gerald Wilson, and Billy Higgins, who mentored a quartet with Washington, pianist Cameron Graves, and the brothers Stephen ("Thundercat") and Ronald Bruner. They released their debut album Young Jazz Giants in 2004 on Birdman Records.

Washington joined the Gerald Wilson Orchestra for its 2005 album In My Time. Washington played saxophone on Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly. His debut solo recording, The Epic, was released in May 2015. The mini-album/EP Harmony of Difference followed in September 2017. His second full-length studio album, Heaven and Earth, was released in June 2018, with a companion EP titled The Choice released a week later.

Washington has played along with a diverse group of musicians including Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Horace Tapscott, Lauryn Hill, Nas, Snoop Dogg, George Duke, Chaka Khan, Flying Lotus, Mike Muir, Francisco Aguabella, St. Vincent, the Pan Afrikaan People's Orchestra, Run the Jewels and Raphael Saadiq.

On June 25, 2020, Washington, Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper, and 9th Wonder announced the formation of the supergroup Dinner Party. They released a single, "Freeze Tag", and their debut extended play, Dinner Party, was released on July 10, 2020.

On June 18, 2021, Washington released a new song "Sun Kissed Child" as part of The Undefeated's Music for the Movement series. Also in 2021, Washington and his band contributed a cover of the Metallica song "My Friend of Misery" to the charity tribute album The Metallica Blacklist.

Awards and nominations

Year Ceremony Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1999 John Coltrane Music Competition Won
2015 Worldwide Winners Album of the Year The Epic Won
2016 American Music Prize Won
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Jazz Album Nominated
Libera Awards Album of the Year Nominated
Best Breakthrough Artist Nominated
Groundbreaking Album of the Year Won
Heritage Album of the Year Won
2018 UK Music Video Awards Best Urban Video – International "Street Fighter Mas" Nominated
Libera Awards Best Jazz Album Harmony of Difference Won
2019 Worldwide Winners Jazz Album of the Year Heaven and Earth Won
Libera Awards Album of the Year Won
Best Jazz Album Won
Creative Packaging Won
Video of the Year "Heaven & Earth" Nominated
Brit Awards International Male Solo Artist Himself Nominated
UK Music Video Awards Best Alternative Video – International "Hub-tones" Nominated
Best Special Video Project "As Told to g/d Thyself" Nominated
2020 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Music Composition for a Documentary
Series or Special (Original Dramatic Score)
Becoming Nominated
Libera Awards Best Sync Usage Music in Apple Shot on iPhone XS commercial Nominated
2021 Grammy Awards Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media Becoming Nominated


As leader/co-leader

Studio albums


With Throttle Elevator Music

  • Throttle Elevator Music (Wide Hive, 2012)
  • Area J (Wide Hive, 2014)
  • Jagged Rocks (Wide Hive, 2015)
  • Throttle Elevator Music IV (Wide Hive, 2016)
  • Retrorespective (Wide Hive, 2017)
  • Emergency Exit (Wide Hive, 2020)
  • Final Floor (Wide Hive, 2021)

As sideman

With the Gerald Wilson Orchestra

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