Aug 27, 2021
Saxophonist Kenny Garrett makes some of the most uplifting, joyous music on the planet. Whether he is playing his music on the bandstand with some of the greatest performers in jazz history – Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Marcus Miller, and Chick Corea – or writing and recording his own music with his band, this is music charged with a positive message and vibe. He’s well aware of what I speak – his album titles include Black Hope, Happy People and Do Your Dance!.
His latest album, released today on Mack Avenue Records, is entitled Sounds of the Ancestors, and as the title suggests, it’s a musical trip through Kenny’s past, as he digs into the sounds that have moved him in the past, and chased them from his hometown of Detroit to the Caribbean and Africa. Garrett’s band - – pianist Vernell Brown, Jr., bassist Corcoran Holt, drummer Ronald Bruner and percussionist Rudy Bird – once again supplies the lift for Garrett saxophone, driving tunes like “It’s Time to Come Home” and “For Art’s Sake.”
Garrett has wisely augmented the group on tracks to bring in master percussionists like drummer Lenny White (Return to Forever), conguero Pedrito Martinez, and batá percussionist Dreiser Durruthy, who supply the necessary rhythmic boost on their cameo appearances. Singers Dwight Trible, Jean Baylor, Linny Smith, Chris Ashley Anthony and Sheherazade Holman, as well as Garrett himself, bring more texture, color and healing sounds with their prayerful vocals.
In Part One of a two-part conversation, Kenny and I talk about the thought process behind, and the journey to write and record Sounds of the Ancestors. Always articulate, Kenny discusses the song structure and goals in writing for certain musicians and to capture certain sounds. Always the student, Garrett tells of how he keeps finding ways to learn more about his instrument and the sounds he can make. He speaks warmly of his hometown of Detroit, and how he looks forward to performing there in the 2021 Detroit Jazz Festival next weekend.
Musical selections include his tribute to the late great trumpeter Roy Hargrove, appropriately entitled “Hargrove,” from Sounds of the Ancestors, and “Haynes Here”, written for drummer Roy Haynes and released in 2012 on his album Seeds from the Underground.
Kenny Garrett will be one of the headliners of the 2021 Detroit Jazz Festival, held Labor Day Weekend, September 3-6. The event has pivoted to a virtual live format that will be live streamed for your enjoyment. More information can be found here.