Saturday, October 17, 2009

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Four from Kenny Garrett

This week, let's peruse some video clips of saxophonist Kenny Garrett, who will be in St. Louis with his quartet starting this Wednesday, October 21 through Saturday, October 24 to perform at Jazz at the Bistro.

After launching his career working with the big bands of Duke Ellington and Mel Lewis, Garrett first gained wide public attention as a member of one of Miles Davis' last groups, performing and recording with the trumpeter for nearly five years near the end of Davis' life.

As a player and composer, Garrett draws on a variety of influences, including hard bop, funk, Latin jazz and various Asian musics. In addition to recording 18 CDs as a leader, he also has worked with many other well-known musicians, such as Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, Brian Blade, Marcus Miller, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Bobby Hutcherson, Ron Carter, Elvin Jones, and Mulgrew Miller.

In a concert here in St. Louis four years ago, Garrett was particularly impressive working with Hancock's all-star Headhunters 2005. More recently, he's toured with another all-star fusion group, the Five Peace Band, which also includes guitarist John McLaughlin, pianist Chick Corea, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta.

The first clip up above shows Garrett playing one of his best known songs, the title track for the 2002 CD Happy People. It's taken from a concert at the 2002 North Sea Jazz Festival in the Hague, Netherlands, and features Garrett on alto sax along with Vernell Brown on piano, Kris Funn on bass and Ronald Bruner Jr. on drums.

Next up is an excerpt from a performance earlier this year in Tel Aviv, Israel, with Garrett and an organ-driven quartet playing "Intro to Africa." Below that, there's a clip of the Five Peace Band from a concert in Spain last November, performing a sort of medley of two pieces made famous by Miles Davis, "It's About That Time" and "In A Silent Way." Finally, there's an oldie-but-goodie clip of Garrett and one his early bands, including the late Kenny Kirkland on piano, doing a cover version of Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues."

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