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Kamasi Washington Makes Late-Night TV Debut

The saxophonist performed a new composition on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Kamasi Washington at the 2021 Newport Jazz Festival
Kamasi Washington at the 2021 Newport Jazz Festival (photo: Joseph Allen)

UPDATE 2/3/22: You can watch Kamasi Washington’s high-powered Tonight Show rendition of “The Garden Path” below.

If all goes well, tonight (Feb. 2) should be an auspicious one for saxophonist and composer Kamasi Washington. He’ll be making his late-night television debut, performing a brand-new song on NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

The composition in question, “The Garden Path,” is the first new original recording that Washington’s put out in nearly a year, following “Sun Kissed Child,” a track made for ESPN/The Undefeated’s Music for the Movement series, and a cover of Metallica’s “My Friend of Misery” for the Metallica Blacklist compilation. You can check it out here.

Seeing or hearing the words “garden path” can often trigger the thought of being figuratively led down one, and it seems Washington’s been thinking the same thing, based on an official statement he made about the song: “The world feels turned upside down. There’s so much push and pull in every direction, from everyone you meet—no one knows what to think, who to believe, or how to approach life right now. No matter how smart you are, it’s hard not to feel blind.”

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The Tonight Show appearance is yet another example of Washington’s cultural status continuing to rise. In 2020, he released his Emmy- and Grammy-nominated score for Becoming, director Nadia Hallgren and Netflix’s documentary profiling First Lady Michelle Obama. The year before that, As Told to G/D Thyself, a short film companion to his album Heaven and Earth, debuted at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival to widespread acclaim.