Aug 29, 2021
Podcast 841 is Part Two of my two-part conversation with saxophonist Kenny Garrett. His latest album, released August 27th 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 and back. He will be heading home to Detroit to play the 2021 Detroit Jazz Festival September 3-6.
Garrett has performed with many jazz greats throughout his career. He speaks warmly of his mentors Bill Wiggins and Marcus Belgrave, without whom he feels he would not have been able to make the leap to the Duke Ellington Orchestra at a young age. Kenny has had a rare chance to listen to himself circa 1991 this summer, with the release of Merci Miles! Live at Vienne, a live album that Miles Davis recorded less than three months before his death at the age of 65. The Davis band for this show was a sextet of Miles on trumpet, Garrett on saxophone, Deron Johnson on keyboards, Richard Patterson on bass, Joseph Foley on guitar, and Ricky Wellman on drums. The recording captures a more stripped-down sound for the group, but allows the wonderful extended Garrett solos on the likes of “Human Nature” to shine. Kenny talks about his time with Miles (see photo) and the band’s goals and sound with me. We also explore the two Prince tunes that are on the recording, one of which, the blues based “Jail Bait” is included here.
Kenny also speaks fondly of his friend and sometime bandmate Chick Corea, with whom he recorded all-star albums like Remembering Bud Powell with Wallace Roney, Roy Haynes and Christian McBride, and the epic Five Peace Band Live, with John McLaughlin, McBride and Vinnie Colaiuta. We talk about the lessons he learned from Chick, and hear one of my favorite Corea tunes, “Bud Powell.”