“Desire”, “Humility”, “Knowledge”, “Perspective”, “Integrity” and “Truth”. These are the titles of each track taken from Kamasi Washington’s latest EP, Harmony of Difference.
Not only are they song titles, but they also delve into what shapes us as individuals. We all have different perspectives and attitudes towards each of these subjects, and these contradictions in opinion are what Washington is trying to explore throughout this jazz-fuelled expedition.
“Desire” is a sultry, swooning number, with seductive brass notes breezing over a swaying, scattered rhythm. “Humility” is somewhat of a contradiction in itself as the blaring rhythm comes storming straight out of the gates escalating into a three-minute cosmic jam, filled with wandering solos from each member of the band. Throughout the EP a familiar motif swirls in and out of each track, the rising chords from “Desire” once again revisited during “Knowledge”. A dreamlike crescendo begins to take shape and then instantly falls away to reveal the bossa nova rhythm of “Perspective”. This rhythm continues into “Integrity”, with the underlying theme once again rearing its head and steering its way throughout the complex melodies.
The final act “Truth” is an epic 13-minute long movement comprised of all the previous compositions. “Truth” is the moment that the whole EP is always gearing towards – the perfect finale. Sweeping strings and a soulful gospel choir join the band to bring the EP to a close – each musician given their own space to breath and find their place within the piece.
Washington admits that the whole idea behind this EP is the concept of ‘counterpoint’ – the relationship between independent rhythms and colours that are somehow dependent on each other. Each sophisticated melody and harmony may seem jarring and sometimes uncomfortable – as is the way with jazz music – but underneath the spiritual solos and out-there notes, there is a simple, familiar sound – and here lies the beauty of the Harmony Of Difference.
As Washington says himself – “My hope is that witnessing the beautiful harmony created by merging different musical melodies will help people realize the beauty in our own differences.”