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COURTESY: MIKE PARK - Jazz musician and cutting-edge saxophonist Kamasi Washington & The Next Step play the Roseland Theater, Dec. 1.Dec. 1

Sax education

One of contemporary jazz’s most innovative and imaginative musicians, Kamasi Washington laughs when asked if his octet The Next Step will play all of his 2015 triple-disc album, “The Epic,” when it performs here.

“Our songs would be a little too long,” he says of the 172-minute record.

“We kind of try to feel out the vibe of the space we’re in. There’s really no set show. It happens kind of spontaneously.”

Washington began recording “The Epic” in 2011, then went on to collaborate with Kendrick Lamar on the latter’s acclaimed 2015 album “To Pimp a Butterfly.” Between “The Epic” and the Lamar disc, Washington sealed his reputation as an arranger, composer and cutting-edge tenor saxophonist.

“The Epic” sounds at times like it was recorded in a smoky old jazz joint, then a mammoth festival, then as a soundtrack to B-movie science-fiction flicks. The record was both “composed and improvised,” he says, adding his band would sometimes jam on various ideas, then he would add such elements as strings to give the pieces shape and texture.

“We were just trying to play the way we play,” he says, noting his inspiration comes from sources as diverse as jazz, punk, R&B and classical music. “All those kinds of things together, combined with my own individual ideas, is my music.”

A spiritual heir to John Coltrane — Washington actually won the 1999 John Coltrane music competition — his playing can be as far out as that of the great hard bop and free jazz innovator. But he also can sound as smooth as the silkiest ballad singer backup player and as punchy as a funky rock ‘n’ roller blowing down a honky tonk when needed.

“You can have the music that you dance to not be so separated from the music that makes you think, to make it sound soulful while it’s also technical and thoughtful,” he says. His generation of saxophonists is all about breaking down barriers between different musical genres, “connecting the dots” between various styles of the past so they can “seamlessly go from one style to another.”

Along the way, Washington has had a chance to work with everyone from Quincy Jones and Snoop Dogg to Mos Def and Chaka Khan. In particular, he recalls how thrilling it was to play with pianist McCoy Tyner, one of his musical heroes and a famed Coltrane band member. Washington’s words about that moment could serve as a summation of his own sonic philosophy.

“It always felt like the way he played harmonically and musically let the soul go wherever it wants to go.”

Kamasi Washington & The Next Step, 1939 Ensemble, 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, Roseland Theater, 8 N.W. Sixth Ave. $25. Info: 855-227-8499,

Dec. 8, 11

Princess King

Claudette King, daughter of the late great B.B. King, will be joined by Northwest Women Rhythm & Blues for two shows in our area next week. These concerts are fundraisers for Candlelighters, which helps kids with cancer.

The stellar cast of award-winning performers includes Lisa Mann, LaRhonda Steele, Arietta Ward, Lady Kat-True Blue, Rae Gordon, Ellen Whyte, Kimberly Hall, Vicki Stevens, Sonny Hess and Kelly Pierce. King, dubbed “The Bluz Queen,” sang in glee clubs and the choir of The Rev. Brown’s Baptist church growing up in the San Francisco Bay area.

“My inspiration is my dad,” says King, who also soaked up inspiration from such singers as Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Michael Jackson and Mahalia Jackson.

Claudette King with Northwest Women Rhythm & Blues, 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, Trails End Saloon, 1320 Main St., Oregon City, 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11, St. Philip Neri Church, 2408 S.E. 16th Ave. $22, $39.50. Info: 503-319-1333,

Quick hits

• Patternist, the Portland-based musical project of Gabe Mouer, has just released the track “Give It Up,” an upbeat romantic slice of synth-pop that you want to hear about halfway into your night out on the town, just as the buzz hits the brain.

Sometimes compared to St. Lucia, The 1975, Phoenix and Local Natives, the multi-instrumentalist Mouer has a good sense of how to arrange a tune and promises to be a pop phenomenon.

You can catch Patternist with Lostboycrow and Flor at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at Analog, 720 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd. All ages. $8 in advance, $10 day of show. Info:,

• Electronic duo Matmos released “Ultimate Care II,” which, we kid you not, features their own personal washing machine. Their show will feature live sampling from the machine, a live percussionist and videos. Bring your metaphorical dirty laundry to Holocene, 1001 S.E. Morrison St., at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7. Jeff Carey and Bully Fae share the bill. $14. Info: 503-239-7639,

• Duff’s Garage, 2530 N.E. 82nd Ave., offers up two free shows on Thursday, Dec. 8. At 6 p.m. Ziplander and Joe Apice play an Americana show, then at 9 p.m. Zach Bryson & The Meat Rack join Leslie Bee for “2-Step Thursday,” featuring country ‘n’ western tunes. Info: 503-234-2337,

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