“You can always say no,” Washington added. “If Trump pushes the nuclear button, the pilot with the missile can say no.”

Jazz has always been radical in its deconstructions of form and forceful assertions of black identity. Washington took pains to note that this album is political music, even at its most oblique, in the sense that it taps into and tries to understand the primal forces that animate our attitudes and choices.

The current political climate is “a cyclical thing that’s happened before and it will continue to happen until we change our approach,” he said. “I’m looking beyond the problem and looking to the cause.”

More than ever in America, some people’s imaginations seem to be taking precedent over a sense of shared reality.

That can be a gift and blessing too — it’s where hope and optimism spring forth in spite of all the malaise around us. It’s also where we create the respites from political life, private places of beauty and longing that no newsfeed can touch. For anyone looking to finally shut Twitter off for an evening, “Heaven and Earth” is a marvelous occasion to do so.

But the album is also a powerful reminder that inner lives have consequences too, and destructive forces can take root in those unknowable interiors. Artists have a particular ability to reach in and explore them, Washington said. While no one is obligated to try and understand the points of a virulent racist right-wing demagogue, music and empathy tend to have a pretty strong relationship, and that can and should inform how we move forward and find comfort in this era. – August Brown, LA Times

Official site