Kenny Garrett @ Blue Note, New York: September 1 – 4
Saxophonist Kenny Garrett Performs at
Blue Note in New York, September 1-4
National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master
Downbeat Critics Poll Winner, Alto Saxophone
Sounds from the Ancestors
Now Available via Mack Avenue Records
Photo Credit: Jimmy Katz
“File this album under ‘most aptly named.’” — Afropop
“Garrett, the consummate performer, is again at the top of his game.” — Glide Magazine
“He’s someone with a lot of interesting ideas; there’s no way to predict
what you’ll get when he puts out an album.” — Stereogum
“The focused, fervent sound of Kenny Garrett’s alto saxophone doesn’t appear until more than two minutes into ‘Sounds From the Ancestors,’ the title track from his forthcoming album. But as soon as it does, you know you’re in for a ride.” — WBGO
“Ultimately, ‘Sounds from the Ancestors’ amounts to another major work from Garrett;
it easily stands with his — and the year’s — finest albums.” — All Music
Kenny Garrett was recently named a 2023 NEA Jazz Master and winner in the alto saxophone category of DownBeat’s 70th Annual Critic’s Poll while Sounds from the Ancestors earned Album of the Year and Album Art of the Year at this year’s JJA Jazz Awards, which presents its award program on September 11. Garrett and Sounds from the Ancestors will perform at New York’s renowned Blue Note from Thursday, September 1 through Sunday, September 4 with sets at 8:00 and 10:30PM. Joining Garrett will be Rudy Bird (percussion), Corcoran Holt (bass), Melvis Santa (vocals, percussion and keyboards), Ronald Brunner (drums) and Keith Brown (piano).
Garrett’s latest release, Sounds from the Ancestors, is a multi-faceted album. The music, however, doesn’t lodge inside the tight confines of the jazz idiom, which is not surprising considering the alto saxophonist and composer acknowledges the likes of Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye as significant touchstones. Similar to how Miles Davis’ seminal LP, On the Corner, subverted its main guiding lights – James Brown, Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone – then crafted its own unique, polyrhythmic, groove-laden, improv-heavy universe, Sounds from the Ancestors occupies its own space with intellectual clarity, sonic ingenuity and emotional heft.
“Sounds from the Ancestors examines the roots of West African music in the framework of jazz, gospel, Motown, hip-hop, and all other genres that have descended from jùjú and Yoruban music,” explains Garrett. “It’s crucial to acknowledge the ancestral roots in the sounds we’ve inhabited under the aesthetics of Western music.”
Indeed, Sounds from the Ancestors reflects the rich jazz, R&B and gospel history of his hometown of Detroit. More important though, it also reverberates with a modern cosmopolitan vibrancy – notably the inclusion of music coming out of France, Cuba, Nigeria and Guadeloupe.
“The concept initially was about trying to get some of the musical sounds that I remembered as a kid growing up – sounds that lift your spirit from people like John Coltrane, ‘A Love Supreme;’ Aretha Franklin, ‘Amazing Grace;’ Marvin Gaye, ‘What’s Going On;’ and the spiritual side of the church,” Garrett explains. “When I started to think about them, I realized it was the spirit from my ancestors.”
The core ensemble for Sounds from the Ancestors consists of musicians that Garrett has recorded and toured with in recent past – pianist Vernell Brown, Jr., bassist Corcoran Holt, drummer Ronald Bruner and percussionist Rudy Bird. The album also features guest appearances from drummer Lenny White, pianist and organist Johnny Mercier, trumpeter Maurice Brown, conguero Pedrito Martinez, batá percussionist Dreiser Durruthy and singers Dwight Trible, Jean Baylor, Linny Smith, Chris Ashley Anthony and Sheherazade Holman. And on a couple of cuts, Garrett extends his instrumental palette by playing piano and singing.
With his illustrious career that includes hallmark stints with Miles Davis, Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, Donald Byrd, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw and the Duke Ellington Orchestra, as well as a heralded career as a solo artist that began more than 30 years ago, Garrett is easily recognized as one of modern jazz’s brightest and most influential living masters. And with the marvelous Sounds from the Ancestors, the GRAMMY® Award-winning Garrett shows no signs of resting on his laurels.
Kenny Garrett featured on the cover of the June 2022 issue of JazzTimes.
Kenny Garrett · Sounds from the Ancestors
Mack Avenue Records · Release Date: August 27, 2021
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