Jazz revivalist and Los Angeles saxophonist Kamasi Washington has generated plenty of buzz for the staggering surreality of his epic, diaspora-spanning compositions, but his videos have always created a similar sensation as well. His latest clip for “Hub-Tones” from his critically-acclaiming, sprawling album, Heaven And Earth, is no different, incorporating powerful imagery of Black Nationalism, spiritualism, and hints of both melancholy and optimism over the nine-minute arrangement.
Directed by Jenn Nkiru, who also shot the video from his “Fists Of Fury” earlier this year as well as collaborating on Jay-Z and Beyonce’s “Apesh*t” video, the clip for “Hub-Tones” draws on Pan-African themes, with dancers dressed in elaborate robes cavorting in front of the Pan-African Flag for the Relic Travellers’ Alliance by artist Larry Achiampong. Nkiru says that she wanted to “invoke the immediate ecstatic connection [‘Hub-Tones’] gave me,” by homaging “make-up and crystal embellishment in the style of Nina Simone and the same lighting as seen in the courthouse hearings of Anita Hill,” as well borrowing from African traditional dance. “There’s a tradition ceremony called Oboni in the Ikwerre tribe, my parents’ tribe — the tribe of my heritage. The idea is through repetition, instrumentation and movement, to channel spirit, going deeper and deeper with the changing of each tone within the music ’till it becomes hypnotic and transcendent.”
In the press release for the video, Washington states, “I was trying to connect to my ancestors by connecting African rhythms with a Freddie Hubbard tune, which gave me that connection in a different way. As an African-American, a lot of us don’t know the country of our origin — that’s why most of us take on the ideology of Pan-Africanism.”