USA: Saxophonist Kenny Garrett Celebrates Global Perspectives of Individuality on Do Your Dance! Available July 8 via Mack Avenue Records
Saxophonist Kenny Garrett Celebrates Global
Perspectives of Individuality on Do Your Dance!
Available July 8 via Mack Avenue Records
"...one of the most admired alto saxophonists in jazz..."
- The New York Times
"He may play in the roaring language of Coltrane, but if there's
a currently-active alto player who brings Bird's verve and
animation to the table, it's Kenny Garrett." - Village Voice
More than any other artist in traditional jazz today, saxophonist/composer/arranger Kenny Garrett
and his band are known to entice audiences to want to get up and
groove. Be it in Spain where a man from Cameroon leaped up and broke out
some African moves then was joined by a young break-dancer, or in
Germany where a clearly classically trained ballet dancer was brought to
his feet; in Poland where a fan literally jumped from the balcony onto
the stage to dance, or at a festival in Barbados where music lovers got
on up and grooved in the rain to "Happy People," the spectacle is always
the same: the spirit takes over and the movements come naturally. It is
this spirit that Garrett has instigated and witnessed from stages
around the world that fills Do Your Dance!--the saxophonist's fourth for Mack Avenue Records.
look out and see people waiting for the songs that they can party to
and express themselves," confirms Garrett, the nine-time winner of DownBeat's Reader's Poll for Alto Saxophonist of the Year. "Do Your Dance!
was inspired by audiences moved to rise from their seats and 'lift a
foot!' Some are reluctant to participate because they think that others
are better than they are. I tell them, 'Do your dance.' That means even
if you have to 'stay pocket,' do the Funky Four Corners or the Nae-Nae,
don't worry about what the other person is doing. Let it all hang out
and 'do your dance!' On the title track we combine the spirit of a
`70s-style beach get down with just a touch of hip-hop-ever in search of
the link between the two. I had it playing while I was talking to my
daughter on FaceTime. When it got to the end with that new vibe, she
smiled and I thought, 'Uh huh--gotcha!'"
Do Your Dance!
is a travelogue of rhythm from the melodic lilt of "Calypso Chant" and
the soothing, Brazil-inspired "Bossa" to the summer barbecue spirit of
"Backyard Groove" and "Philly." Garrett elaborates, "'Philly' was
inspired by people at an outdoor festival we played down the street from
Temple University. That older generation was going in--dancing to hard
bop, funkafied fire and calypso...anything we threw at them! That's how
people used to dance to jazz."
Photo Credit: Jimmy Katz
It was inspiration in liquefied form that resulted in the novel
"Wheatgrass Shot (Straight to the Head)," one of two tracks featuring
rapper Mista Enz (Donald Brown, Jr.) of Knoxville,
Tennessee. Recalling the tune's circuitous origin, Garrett explains, "A
nurse friend told me about the health benefits of wheatgrass. You can
cut it with honey or fruit juice but I took it straight to the head, and
the bitterness sent my body into contortions (another form of dance).
Later, I was at the piano messing with this minor 2nd interval. I
recognized it as a musical metaphor for that wheatgrass going upside my
head! As the music took shape, I felt it needed a rap." Garrett reached
out to several sources, then co-producer Donald Brown gently intervened, offering, "My son raps." Enter Mista Enz.
first track Kenny emailed me sounded like they turned on a tape
recorder mid-session," Enz confesses. "I thought it was gonna be
impossible to write to, but it was an honor for Kenny to consider me, so
I had to make it work. I didn't have time to try the wheatgrass, so I
typed it in on the Internet. Kenny told me the effect it had on him was
like a 'shot to the brain.' I equated that to euphoria...the way a woman
makes you feel. I did part of it freestyle and part of it written to
stay on subject. Kenny called back and said it was exactly what he was
Rounding out Do Your Dance! are "Persian Steps" (built from the ground up with just Ronald Bruner, Jr.
on drums and Garrett on piano, later adding flute, a chant and shruti
box-an Indian accordion he discovered in Germany) and "Chasing the Wind"
(Garrett composing a piece at top speed in the tradition of bop
standards that jazz musicians challenge themselves with by playing at
triple time). Garrett dedicated "Waltz (3 Sisters)" to his fairer
siblings. "My sisters have always been my support system in every way.
Wherever I show up, they're the first ones there. Sometimes you take it
for granted because that's family...but it doesn't have to be that way.
So I wrote one for them."
from Bruner--who, since gigging with Garrett, has played with artists
from Stevie Wonder to Kamasi Washington--the saxophonist is joined by
another drummer, McClenty Hunter, who was first documented with Garrett on his last album, Pushing the World Away. Also returning from the previous album is bassist Corcoran Holt whom Garrett first encountered four years ago at Blues Alley in DC.
Percussionist Rudy Bird
goes back with Garrett to a 1983 tour of Sophisticated Ladies, and has
since played with Michael Jackson and Lauryn Hill. Then there's
notoriously obtuse pianist Vernell Brown, Jr. who has played with the saxophonist since 2002's Happy People and its follow-up Standard of Language.
Finally, there is Garrett's longtime co-producer Donald Brown, an old
friend from days when, as a pianist, he shared the bandstand in Art
Blakey's Jazz Messengers, and his right-hand man on sessions off and on
since Garrett's highest Billboard Jazz chart-topper to date, African Exchange Student, in 1990.
Detroit-born Kenny Garrett
is a five-time GRAMMY® Award-nominee and 2010 GRAMMY® Award-winner (as a
member of Chick Corea's and John McLaughlin's co-led Five Peace Band),
and the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from Berklee College of Music
in 2011. His distinguished credits extend from starting with the Duke
Ellington Orchestra (under son Mercer Ellington) to Freddie Hubbard,
Woody Shaw, Donald Byrd and Miles Davis (with whom he ascended to
international stardom); to contemporary stars Marcus Miller, Sting,
Meshell Ndegeocello, Q-Tip and funkateers Cameo.
been a whirlwind," Garrett concludes. "Records and concerts are about
me taking people on the ride I want to take them on. It can be pretty
ballads, some intensity, and then we can party! When they leave, I hope
they feel like we took them on a journey. And when they come back to see
us or put that CD in the player years later, I hope people have a
deeper perspective on the music than the first time."