With just one epic-length proper album under his belt, aptly titled The Epic out via Brainfeeder, Washington has carved out his own place alongside his musical forefathers who have dialed into the true sound of the universe — Lonnie Liston Smith, Alice Coltrane, John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, et. al. The L.A.-based saxophone player took the stage with a massive stature. And like Miles Davis, he knows how to assemble a band that packs gravitational pull. Two drummers, keys, bass, horns, and the counterweight of vocalist Patrice Quinn’s tranquilizing voice settled in with an opulence and grandeur that matched Washington’s tenor sax rhythms and wailing.
On Wednesday night, Washington led a seven-piece ensemble through a set hanging in the balance between composed and improvised excursions. Hard bop jazz, funk, and various other modal inflections blended with a cosmic resonance that was at once massive, ecstatic, and infinitely beautiful. In its presence, the heat of so many bodies packed in like sardines melted away.
Faun and a Pan Flute opened the show, each of the group’s members squeezed onto the stage amid an arsenal of instruments — enough gear to accommodate Faun’s nine-piece ensemble, and Washington’s crew. With just four songs Faun and a Pan Flute set in motion a night of heady musical abstraction, broadcast to a room that soaked in every note and every nuance, locked in the throes of survival mode brought on by the heat and the power of Washington’s command of just enough straight-ahead jazz to temper a personal, universal blast from the cosmos.