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Kamasi Washington plays Variety Playhouse Dec. 8

The face of modern jazz returns supporting his latest release, ‘Harmony of Difference’

Thursday December 7, 2017 08:55 pm EST

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Tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington has taken up the mantle as the face of modern jazz. His sprawling, larger-than-life orchestrations and sharp improvisational instincts are bound by intangible spiritual currents, and anchored to terra firma by oceanic rhythms and the human sway of a large cast of players, many of whom have spent a lifetime playing music together. Washington’s latest release, the six-song Harmony of Difference mini-album, was written as the counterpart to a series of paintings his sister, Amani, had featured in the 2017 Biennial for New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. But as a stand-alone collection of songs, Harmony of Difference picks up where Washington’s 3xLP debut, The Epic, left off. Songs such as “Humility,” “Perspective,” and “Truth” commune with the sublime qualities of the universe both effervescent and fully charged, his playing evokes the emotional depth of John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, and the unbound creativity of the Sun Ra Arkestra’s Marshall Allen. For this Variety Playhouse performance, Washington is backed by an ensemble featuring singer Patrice Quinn, trombone player Ryan Porter, Rickey Washington playing flute and soprano sax, Brandon Coleman on keys, Ronald Bruner Jr. and Robert Miller on drums, and Joshua Crumbly on bass. The Los Angeles-based trio Moonchild opens the show.

$33, $36, $95 (VIP). 7 p.m. (doors). Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave. 404-524-7354. www.variety-playhouse.com.