Brassy funk improvisation’s heir apparent
Carlos Washington can feed his family.
The driving force behind both New Century Soul Records and The Giant People, he’s coming to Half Moon Saloon in West Vail today at 10 p.m.
New Century Soul Records is his own creation, and he’s operating it family style, building it from the inside out and modeling it on the way String Cheese works. It’s important to him to have control of his own company.
“One, you’re taking advantage of the free enterprise system of America that people have fought and died for,” he said. “You can grow your own food, eat your own food. You don’t have to be an Egyptian and slave for your food. I can feed my family. I don’t have to have another person tell me what my time is worth. At the end of the day, it’s up to me if I eat or not. It’s New Century Soul, we’re recognizing the turn of the millennium is the awakening of a new consciousness. We can celebrate and work at the same time.”
A former US musical diplomat to Jamaica and US Marine Corps Band member, Washington is credited with holding the future of funky brass improvisation in his hands. He’s never without his trumpet. He went from being part of Karl Densen’s Tiny Universe to the main event of his own project.
“Giant people is the mentality of this network of people we’ve been gathering up on our mailing list,” explained the brass man. “There’s a lot of independent writers and everybody. Everybody doesn’t want to work for another person. So we kind of call that Giant People, coming together, doing it together.”
There are bits and pieces of old-style favorites to be found within their original tunes. Giant People take many styles of music and puts them into a classical format. Washington describes it as taking the essence of songs and creating something new. People will be familiar with some of the sounds and riffs, but it will go in a different direction.
“Giant People means coming together pretty much,” said Washington. “I call it much love. We all have our heavens and our hells, and it’s up to us to recognize the beauty in our lives, the heaven in our lives.”
Some of the heaven in Washington’s life are the strong women who have given to him again and again. In a song on the new album, “T is Triumph,” he talks about a woman overcoming all the oppression in her life.
“She ascends to a different place that is totally beautiful and different than anything we could imagine,” he said. “It’s about recognizing that heaven and hell are inches apart. We can choose which one to be in. The main thing is really not letting our pride or our situation get in the way.
God gives us two things, air to breathe and choice. We get to be together, make our daily bread, and give to others.”
Just as Washington wants to be involved in his own project, it’s also important for him to release albums on his own label, New Century Soul.
“It’s like you being in a pond,” mused the musician. “I was a catfish in the pond, and I found a new land. To me it’s almost like the underground railroad. The work is behind us. Most musicians get jaded with record labels who don’t get behind them, just throw them in the trenches. It shouldn’t be like that for a musician. It should be the awareness of how music heals people.”
Washington and company have played together for a while now, so they’ve gotten adept at reading each other’s moods. Everyone shares writing duties, be it in whole songs or simply their own lines.
“I’m sitting there just listening, and then I arrange it, like an architect or an interior designer would arrange a house,” he explained. “Put that there, that there, and we work together until we’re all satisfied. Keeping the love is important.”
Washington and his crew strive to ignore pressure and simply keep it flowing.
“You don’t have to be a musician to understand what we do,” he said.