Kamasi Washington shines at North Sea Jazz Festival

Jazz FM Award-winning saxophonist Kamasi Washington and his group The Next Step put on the performance of the night in a "glorious, celestial uplift" in Rotterdam.

The 41st North Sea Jazz Festival got underway last night at the Ahoy Centre in The Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands. 

This year’s Artist in Residence is Love Supreme Festival headliner, trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf and the night closed with Pharrell Williams performing a string of hits he produced or recorded for himself and countless pop stars. Thirteen stages provided world class acts as diverse as Hammond B3 legend Dr Lonnie Smith to hip hop group The Roots, electronic artist Flying Lotus, Grammy Award-winning Arturo O’Farrill’s full Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Blue Note debutant Kandace Springs, Birdman drummer Antonio Sanchez, MOBO Award-winners Binker & Moses and North Carolina’s steel pan jazz wizard Jonathan Scales’ Fourchestra.

The two biggest rooms at North Sea Jazz, the Nile and Maas stages, were packed to row Z all night as fans crammed in to see blues legend Buddy Guy, James Blake, Vintage Trouble the Roots and Pharrell. The Maas stage played host to two spectacular shows featuring Holland’s Metropole Orkest. Opening up the evening infront of around 10,000 elated faces, Snarky Puppy played a long show including a segment featuring The Metropole Orkest conducted by Jules Buckley. 

An hour later the performance of the night took place as the Maas stage was set for a debut from LA saxophonist Kamasi Washington and his group The Next Step promising, “y’all are going to see something really special,” and he was spot on. Joined once again by the Metropole Orkest, plus a large Dutch choir and featured guest viola virtuoso Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, they performed the music from Washington’s hugely acclaimed debut album ‘The Epic’ in a way that was true to its full expansive original intent. Jazz FM’s Chris Philips was watching and described it as, “a glorious, celestial uplift and a beautiful giant sound.”

Kamasi then invited his father Rickey Washington on to the stage to play flute and featured vocalist Patrice Quinn on a performance of ‘Henrietta Our Hero’ written in tribute to his Grand Mother. Special guest, and life-long friend Stephen ‘Thundercat’ Bruner hot footed from the end of his own performance on an adjacent stage to join the party on bass.

Saturday night promises another tsunami of jazz joy at the Ahoy with a line-up including Pat Metheny and Ron Carter, Steps Ahead Reunion, Branford Marsalis Quartet with Kurt Elling, St Germain, Ibrahim Maalouf, Jacob Collier, Hiatus Kaiyote, Donny McCaslin, Avery Sunshine, Sao Paolo Afro-Funkers Bixiga 70, Charles McPherson and many more. The main stage Nile lines up Level 42, R&B stars Charlie Wilson, Miguel and the legendary Earth, Wind and Fire.

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