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Kenny Garrett

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I'm surprised that people don't mention "Standard of Language" more. I think that his level of playing on that one is much higher than on earlier albums. In fact, its the closest of his studio albums to capture his live shows IMO. It has only one "smooth" tune.....the rest is intense post bop with a GREAT band (Vernell Brown, Charnet Moffet and Chris Dave) just really throwing it down. It might be my favorite album of his. E$specially after his previous two albums, it was nice to see him return to his element.

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Here is a recent article:

Saxing Up the Alto

Kenny Garrett puts the cool back into the bastard child of the sax world

By Peter Koht

The alto sax has a checkered history. Charlie Parker and Cannonball Adderley made it famous back in the days of "Donna Lee" and "Anthropology," but since the death of the Bird, the alto cool quotient has taken a hit. While tenor lovers count John Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders as their instrumental prophets, the main messiahs of the E-flat horn have been blessed with names like Phil Woods and Sonny Sitt. Even though it's a more agile instrument, the alto has become the bastard child of the jazz world, relegated mostly to swing bands and concert music.

Unlike all the other kids who ditch the alto as soon as their fingers get big enough to pick up the tenor to try to be the next 'Trane, Kenny Garrett knew that he wanted to chunk it out on the alto. Garrett's first professional gig was not too shabby; he got a seat in the Duke Ellington Orchestra, under the direction of Duke's son, Mercer. This gig led Kenny out of the Detroit music scene and into New York's. After a brief stint in some pit orchestras, he found himself playing for both Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and Miles' Davis' group. From Miles he learned many musical lessons and some practical ones as well.

"Miles' genius was getting the best out of musicians but not controlling them--letting them be free but also getting what he wanted from them," says Garrett. Years later, when he found himself leading his own quartet, he adopted Miles' approach to being on the bandstand.

"What I want to do is let my music be as spontaneous as possible. Initially, of course, I need to let my musicians know what I am looking for, but after that, the music is free to evolve."

Evolution is an eloquent choice of words to describe the output of this gentleman. Unlike many traditionalists who believe that jazz ended when Wayne Shorter took over for Coltrane in Miles' group back in 1964, each new Kenny Garrett project is a complete redesign of the genre and its possibilities. Garrett's expansiveness has also found him seeking inspiration in Asian folk music. On his first trip to Asia, Garrett became enamored with both the languages and the music of the Pacific Rim, and has recently begun to study the music of China, where he's scheduled to tour next August.

"Once you start checking out the music in a new place, you start to understand the connections between the verbal and the musical, and it's another window on the culture."

Garrett's interest in new sounds also applies to contemporary American music. Unlike many of his contemporaries in the jazz world, Garrett doesn't believe that hip-hop is having a deleterious effect on the evolution of the music. In fact, some of his most recent tunes show a strong bent toward this genre.

"I have a 15-year-old daughter who keeps me current, and so does my drummer. People think that hip-hop is new, but it has really old foundations. The other night I went to go see Johnny Griffin, and he was quoting all these different songs in his solos. You can hear his story, and the history of the music in everything that he plays. So sampling has an old foundation."

While Garrett has the freedom to work with almost anyone in the jazz community, he has chosen to build his band around people with open ears who are unafraid to follow him in his sonic wanderings. "I like working with younger musicians, because older musicians might not know new tunes or even want to play them, where younger players like to keep it fresh."

This attitude, combined with his boundless energy and sense of fun, has made Garrett one of the more interesting and hip players to watch in the jazz world. Not too shabby for an alto player.

Kenny Garrett Quartet plays Monday, March 28, at 7pm at the Kuumbwa, 320 Cedar St., SC. Tickets $20-$23. (831.427.5100; www.kuumbwajazz.com).

[ Santa Cruz | Metroactive Central | Archives ]

From the March 23-30, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

For more information about Santa Cruz, visit santacruz.com.

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Charlie Parker and Cannonball Adderley made it famous back in the days of "Donna Lee" and "Anthropology," but since the death of the Bird, the alto cool quotient has taken a hit.

Guess the writer never heard of Jackie Mack, Greg Osby, Gary Bartz and a few dozen more. :w

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Kenny Garrett doesn't play smooth. I respect that you don't like the R&B influences in his music but that doesn't make it smooth. Smooth stations do not play his music because it isn't smooth. This is like Wynton saying that Miles' Jack Johnson is rock and roll because he didn't like it. Were you referring to the Asian trilogy of songs he plays? Those aren't smooth at all, they are traditional folk songs. I like that Garrett has a range of style. That he goes from r&b/funk to playing out. It makes him interesting, particularly in live performance. I saw him twice last week at Yoshi's and there is nothing smooth about his music. Calling Kenny Garrett's music smooth is an insult to an exceptionally talented artist. Grover Washington played smooth. Kenny G used to play smooth. Their musical styles are light years away from Kenny Garrett plays.

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I hear what you're saying, but I did cut loose a KG album (was it "Simply Said" ? I can't remember) because I thought it was quite a step down for him and it did frequently evoke a repugnance in me that I normally associate with smooth jazz. I have and like "Black Hope", "Triology" and "Pursuance" and I really dug KG when I saw him perform with Roy's Birds of a Feather band back in late '02.

Again, the contributor above may have only heard music that at least one critic has associated with being "smooth" as per the following excerpt from a review in the AMG guide of KG's album "Happy Folks":

"As on his previous album, Simply Said, he employed Marcus Miller on a selective basis as an electric bassist, also promoting Miller to co-producer. Miller, who knew his way around contemporary jazz, helped turn the opening track, "Song for DiFang," into the kind of number that potentially could be played on smooth jazz radio stations. And those stations probably also would feel at home with the title track, slotted second in the album's sequence, which featured vocals by Jean Norris. Indeed, if you stopped listening there, you'd classify Happy People as a contemporary jazz album."

This could all be due to the possibility that one man's R&B/Funk can be another man's example of "smooth".

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Oh, I don't know. This is like people who hated disco because they couldn't dance. Look, I understand that some folks didn't like Simply Said or Happy People. My only beef is with calling it something that it isn't instead of calling it jazz that some people don't like. A smooth record doesn't have somone playing even a little bit out on it, let alone anything that could be called straightahead. Garrett plays around with different styles and has said his musical influences include R&B and hip hop. I think it is a good thing when musicians stretch and try different things. It's why I loved Miles. That and that he didn't care what people thought about his music. Happy People certainly isn't my favorite CD by Garrett but I will keep it because I really love the last track.

B-)

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Was surprised to find no thread for Kenny Garrett - and little mention of him at all outside of BFTs. What, you guys confusing him with the other Kenny G? :lol:

I've been listening to Trio-logy the last couple of days (new to me), but I also have and really enjoy his Coltrane album and Simply Said.

One of my favorite of the "young lions" - who aren't so young anymore.

I picked up 'Songbook' last week and I've been really taken by it. Some nice tunes and outstanding playing. People talk about the new players not having their own sound, but to me KG has a unique sound that's easy to identify. I really like Kenny Kirkland on this too.

Does anybody know if Kenny Garrett has been in the studio recently or if he's still recording for Warners? It's been a few years since he released something as a leader. (he sounds great, btw, on the 'tain Watts CD released last year--'Detained at the Blue Note').

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I'm ready for a new Garrett CD as well.

According to allmusic.com, here's what he's done since Standard of Language came out in 2003 (but was really recorded along with Happy People in 2001):

2003

Urban Knights - Urban Knights V

Dreyfus Nights in Paris (94 live recording, w/Petrucciani, Bireli Lagrene, Marcus Miller, & Lenny White)

2004

Andre Charlier/Benoit Sourisse - Eleven Blues

Mike Stern - These Times

2005

Patches Stewart - Blow

Cafe Soul Allstars - Love Pages

Miles Davis - Munich Concert (88 live recording)

Marcus Miller - Silver Rain

Meshell Ndegeocello - Spirit Music Jamia

2006

Dennis Chambers - Planet Earth

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I'm hoping that they will eventually release a recording taken from the shows he did with Pharoah Sanders and Tain a couple years back.

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Good news for Garrett fans... he has a new album coming out on August 29th, on Nonesuch. This one is titled "Beyond the Wall". Appears to be a tribute (or at least dedicated to) to McCoy Tyner.

Tracks:

1. Calling

2. Beyond The Wall

3. Q¨«ng W¨¨n (not sure about this title...LOL)

4. Realization (Marching Towards The Light)

5. Tsunami Song

6. Kiss To The Skies

7. NOW

8. Gwoka

9. May Peace Be Upon Them

Edited by Aggie87

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Kenny's time has past. Sorry to hear that he has an album coming out. He was and still is a terrific sideman but like a lot of Jazz players today, has nothing of any importance to say as a leader.

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I basically love Kenny. He has balls, conviction, a great rude sound, and is totally confident in what he's doing. He got the rhythm and gone. He can be a bit self-indugent for me, especially on some live things I have, but that's a general complaint I have about a lot of soloists and jazz these days in general. Also some of his tunes I thought could've perhaps used a bit more thought and honing before being documented, but then again they worked pretty good as solo vehicles.

I loved his solo on Mack the Knife and some of his other leader efforts, and dug his work with Roy Haynes. He's a MF, like Mulgrew Miller, one of the young guys hyped in the 80s that actually deserved it.

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great! I will be checking his new one out for sure. I have this live show from the Pursuance tour recorded at the Knitting Factory, man it cooks! Pat Metheny on "Wayne's Thang" is great. One of the best guitar synth solos I've heard him do, ever.

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I saw him last month.

After two very strong tunes where he played the shit out of his horn, he played a couple songs on soprano ( one was a japanese folk song ) that were OK.

Then he played a sort of rap song that was so silly( he mumbeled over and over "C'mon people get up and git it" ), so pandering to the crowd and so loud ( he hooked up to a midi phaser of some kind), that I left.

It was going on forever and ever. The crowd loved it but not I.

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I saw him last summer and he was doing these long funk vamps that might have gotten boring had it not been for his drummer, a young kid whose name I believe is Ronald Bruner. This kid was ridiculous, a total groove machine.

I enjoy Kenny Garrett, I think he has a unique sound, and while I may not like everything he's done in recent years, I do think there are some great standouts.

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This is a different drummer than last month.

But the young man I saw, who's name escapes me, was a terror too!

interview.jpg

Edited by marcello

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He sounded friggin' great sitting in with Pharoah Sanders a few weeks back in Toronto. I have my hopes up high for the Tyner tribute.

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Good news for Garrett fans... he has a new album coming out on August 29th, on Nonesuch. This one is titled "Beyond the Wall". Appears to be a tribute (or at least dedicated to) to McCoy Tyner.

Tracks:

1. Calling

2. Beyond The Wall

3. Q¨«ng W¨¨n (not sure about this title...LOL)

4. Realization (Marching Towards The Light)

5. Tsunami Song

6. Kiss To The Skies

7. NOW

8. Gwoka

9. May Peace Be Upon Them

I've been waiting for his new CD. I am definitely picking it up!

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Wish he'd make another "serious in all styles" side like Black Hope, but the time has probably passed. Too bad.

Still a great player though. That sound alone is enough to make me listen.

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Here's the cduniverse link

beyond the wall

I have high hopes for this CD although the talk about funk vamps and rap has me feeling a little wary.

According to a jazztimes blurb, sidemen include Bobby Hutcherson and Pharoah Sanders.

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