Kamasi Washington

Fearless Movement

XL Recordings • 2024

»Fearless Movement« is obsessed by the thought of expression. »Expressing your spirit through your body. That’s what this album is pushing«, Kamasi Washington declares. To do so, the saxophonist takes inspiration from the idea of dance. Not actual dance, for his big band jazz isn’t necessarily danceable. »The kind of music I make is not necessarily associated with dance, even though I feel like the more expression in the music, the more it can inspire you to move.« But what, then, are Washington’s bodies expressing? Human creativity as such. Washington wants to move the soul, just as dance tracks might move the flesh. Washington’s inspiration is his daughter. On »Asha the First«, for example, he takes a melody the up-and-coming toddler has tinkled on the Piano and builds it into an explosive hymn of liberation. With Thundercat and the sons of Ras Kass. If the whole album would operate on this level, it would level my year’s end list. Alas, Washington at times attempt to force expressive power into being. »Interstellar Peace« is an esthete movie soundtrack, while »Computer Love« indulges in ironic citations of nostalgic tropes. At its best, »Fearless Movement« is a defiant foray into the human psyche. At its worst: complaisant jazz. Which does not mean that it’s bad jazz – quite the opposite. There are few musicians sounding as polished as Washington. It just isn’t expressive.