Kamasi Washington - Heaven and Earth
Critic Score
Based on 30 reviews
2018 Ratings: #56 / 831
Year End Rank: #12
User Score
Based on 392 ratings
2018 Ratings: #86
Liked by 8 people
June 22, 2018 / Release Date
LP / Format
Young Turks / Label
Jazz Fusion / Genres
Sign In to rate and review


Consequence of Sound

After claiming his place in the spotlight by overwhelming force with The Epic, Kamasi Washington capitalizes on both his newfound fame and his journeyman work ethic to produce a follow-up that’s more intimate and just as daring at the same time.

A.V. Club

Heaven And Earth is shorter than his powerful, three-hour debut, but it might be even more ambitious, splitting its 16 tracks into a two-part concept album: the first reflecting the world as it is, the second depicting Washington’s optimistic vision of the world as it should be.

There are very few contemporary artists with both Washington’s talent and audacity of expression. The insistent vitality of this music, responding to a damaged world on the ‘Earth’ album and exploring the artist’s own view of our existence on the ‘Heaven’ set, should ensure those with genre anxiety are put at ease, while the purists are in for quite a journey.
On his fourth LP, the L.A. saxophonist unleashes yet another colossal batch of material, exploring an unfathomable scope of moods, genres and ideas over 16 tracks and 150 minutes.
No Ripcord
An exceptional record from one of the music world's brightest talents.
There is a wealth of ideas on the table here. It takes a musician, composer, and arranger of Washington's caliber to take these ideas and form them into a brilliant collection of performances. Kamasi Washington is jazz music's brightest light – may he continue to burn for a long, long time.
Under The Radar
He has again proved he's a bandleader with a steady hand and a fiercely curious artistry carrying forward the best of what jazz can be. His modernity is in keeping with great innovators like John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Sun Ra, and like them before him the more unconventional facets of his music help to keep the genre alive rather than indulging the dusty nostalgia and convention of traditionalists.
Upon even just a first listen, one wonders not whether 'Heaven and Earth' is an extraordinary album, which it most certainly is, but how we might reflect upon the effort in forty years' time.
The 405

As with The Epic, Heaven & Earth not only exemplifies Washington’s ability as a saxophonist and band leader, but also the band he has assembled. Every member gets their chance to shine. By drawing from a broader sonic palette, Washington brings a tenderness and intimacy to their big, bold music.


As a listening experience, Heaven and Earth contains the most transcendent moments of his output thus far, as well as some of the gnarliest.

The Line of Best Fit
This is a record that throbs and vibrates with an infectious pulse even when the instrumentalists aim for the outer reaches of lightning-speed look-at-me flurries of virtuoso showing-off.
Northern Transmissions
For his sophomore release, Kamasi Washington goes above and beyond in his compositions while occasionally sticking too close to jazz mainstays. Though it plays to traditional concepts, the places that Washington takes the music is truly awe-inspiring.
The Independent

In a decade of major black American LP statements to match the conscious soul and jazz golden age of forty years ago, Washington is, along with D’Angelo, the artist most steeped in that era’s rhythmically liquid language, and Heaven and Earth allows little let-up in slippery grooves and soulful uplift.

Drowned in Sound

Heaven & Earth is ultimately yet another example of Washington’s incredible prowess behind the saxophone but also as a composer.

The Guardian
Whether his success will lead audiences to further explore music that usually exists on the fringes is an interesting question. What is more certain is the quality and accessibility of his own music.

Heaven and Earth is more a refinement of the ideas expressed on The Epic than an entirely new paradigm.

Crack Magazine
It might not be formally radical, but the tunes are irresistible, and Washington and his band The Next Step have a winning charisma.
The Observer

His second LP, a conceptual double album exploring earth (reality) and heaven (idealisation), is perhaps unlikely to sway the old guard, but it pushes forward with a purposeful vitality that was at times missing from his debut album, The Epic.

FLOOD Magazine

There are choirs and strings, rumbling low-end and even some dissonant synthesizer; and there are songs of jubilee and liberation, born equally of church traditions and civil rights marches. Everything’s writ large; it is music that contains multitudes, and it’s teeming with joy and power.


This is the rare jazz record that feels equipped to venture outside the genre’s familiar borders and engage with the wider world.

Loud and Quiet
An edit of ‘Heaven And Earth’ that preserved, say, just the vocal tracks, would result in a masterpiece of coherence and retain Washington’s clear desire for heft. As it is, everything here might be fine delicacy, but together it’s too rich for all but the biggest appetites.

It strives for boldness and muscular imposition, and aims to stir, excite and inspire. If Washington’s music opens the door for new audiences to explore a wider range of improvised music, it is undoubtedly a positive thing.

Spectrum Culture
There is a ton of excitement. But there is also a big mess of oddly throwback—often schlocky—arranging.
Rolling Stone
His work might not be the best indicator of where jazz as a whole is headed – try the latest from Vijay Iyer or the recent debut from supergroup R+R=Now – but his vast, refreshingly lavish soundworld is well worth getting lost in.
The Needle Drop

By adhering so much to its grand formula, Heaven and Earth comes off as even more cumbersome than The Epic.

Kamasi is to jazz as Joanna Newsome is to folk. Obviously talented and very, very, very ambitious but not everyone can get into it. Yet, somehow Kamasi makes chaotic tunes for a more modern crowd enjoyable. The album is always consistent and never lets up (even if you find it mediocre)This is NOT an album for the faint of heart. This is a two and a half hour long album with no breaks and requires multiple listens. Almost eight hours of your life will go into three listens. Regardless of what ... read more
Ok so like this album generally seems to retain the same level of quality & skill as The Epic, like it's all there, but this was just way more uninteresting to me than The Epic. It had some amazing moments of ecstatic bliss on songs like the opener, the last couple songs, Street Fighter Mas, the ending of Vi Lua Vi Sol & Tiffakonkae, but like ultimately there's really nothing that this album offers that you couldn't get on The Epic. I can't tell if it's a good or bad thing that it's ... read more
I was okay for the first hour or so, but I started to lose it about halfway through Vi Lua Vi Sol. I respect anyone who can finish this album and say they loved it. I'm impressed by this record, but it's not for me, and I was begging for it to be over by the end.
The fascinating journey continues with Kamasi Washington's ambition to make a connection between heaven and earth, an intense and long attempt that thankfully won't leave us alone, even for just a minute.
Yeah... I don’t know how much of this I can take in a single sitting. I always found Kamasi’s music really off putting. It’s personal preference. It just sounds really boring and I don’t think I can handle over 2 hours. 2 minutes in and I want to turn it off
Purchasing Heaven and Earth from Amazon helps support Album of the Year. Or consider a donation?
Become a Donor
Donor badge, no ads + more benefits.

Track List

  1. Fists of Fury
  2. Can You Hear Him
  3. Hub-Tones
  4. Connections
  5. Tiffakonkae
  6. The Invincible Youth
  7. Testify
  8. One of One
  9. The Space Travelers Lullaby
  10. Vi Lua Vi Sol
  11. Street Fighter Mas
  12. Song for the Fallen
  13. Journey
  14. The Psalmnist
  15. Show Us the Way
  16. Will You Sing
Sign in to comment
No one has said anything yet.

Added on: April 10, 2018