Though New York for years has had an inspiringly lively and progressive jazz scene, Kamasi Washington, approaching the American cultural front, is singlehandedly making the form relevant once more. His forthcoming EP, Harmony of Difference, currently (and exclusively heard) in its own room at the Whitney, will surely set the stage for the long in coming Jazz Renaissance.
Hands down the best collaborative work at this year’s Biennial, and in fact the single best piece in the exhibition (no diss on an otherwise excellent affair, particularly floor 6), is Washington’s stellar “Truth” and the equally affecting film in accompaniment, Harmony of Difference, written and directed by AG Rojas.
According to the Whitney press release, “Harmony of Difference is an original six-movement suite that explores the philosophical possibilities of the musical technique known as counterpoint, which Washington defines as ‘the art of balancing similarity and difference to create harmony between separate melodies.’
Washington’s suite includes visual elements wedded to the musical works and draws voraciously from the history of jazz. Each of the first five movements is its own unique composition. The sixth movement fuses all five compositions into one simultaneous performance. Beyond the impulse to expand the artistic possibilities within the concept of counterpoint, Washington wanted to create something that opened people’s minds to the gift of diversity. In his own words, ‘My hope is that witnessing the beautiful harmony created by merging different musical melodies will help people realize the beauty in our own differences.'”
Harmony of Difference will be released later this year on the Young Turks label.