Today, The French people voted to send an anti-immigrant, pro-isolationist candidate to a May 7th presidential run-off – the latest event in a worldwide surge toward nationalism. As a wave of xenophobia continues to flood the Western world, it’s easy to be disheartened, even distrustful, of the people around us. Works of art like Kamasi Washington’s “Truth,” off his upcoming EP, Harmony of Difference, help restore that trust.
Split into three sections, “Truth’s” accompanying video (below) reminds us that there is plenty of room for harmony in difference. Part one is about learning: learning culture, learning community, learning truths. There’s a young women garnering advice from a throng of her elders. A man receives a wrestling lesson atop a bed of rose petals. A child is comforted by his mother. As with any learning experience, there are nerves. A young man and a young woman are readied for a large event, their faces displaying the uneasy smile that characterizes transitions. There is movement – lots of it – and not all of it cozy.
Part two is comfortable. It’s safe. It’s isolated, stale, and gray. It extends for a torturous amount of time, moving slowly, even as the accompanying jazz intensifies. Nothing is learned.
Finally, part three bursts through, and replaces the dreariness with love. Friends dance and splash through rivers, old women laugh with teenage boys, and pairs of people comfort each other. Though some of the images in part three evoke fear or concern, the characters live in harmony.
Each image in the first and third sections mirrors the improvised, constantly changing nature of jazz. We can choose to embrace the uncertainty. We can choose to see the harmony of difference. For depicting that choice, Kamasi Washington is my Sunday’s Best.
On a lighter note, I’ve found my 2017 summer jam. NoMBe’s “Can’t Catch Me” is classic beach rock with a muffled twist. It’s haziness makes it perfect background music, but listen enough times, and you won’t be able to stop singing. I’ll be playing it on every beach day, car ride, and barbecue until my friends force me to stop.