179

Kenny Garrett Live: Combustion

By

Sign in to view read count
Kenny Garrett no longer deserves to be dubbed “The Guy Who Worked with Miles.” He has proven his musical autonomy. Garrett is now empowered to do for his young band what Miles Davis did for him.

If Davis was watching, he smiled widely as the Kenny Garrett Quartet sizzled 70 people for 65 minutes at Vancouver’s west side Jazz Cellar (a classy place) on May 12. Davis would greatly approve of his former band mate’s ascension to a level of jazz musicianship that leaves people’s mouths ajar.

As he did with his newly released Warner album, Standard of Language , Kenny Garrett came out smoking, almost to the excess of tolerance. He unleashed a 25 minute version of “XYZ” that left little structural room for solos, and it sounded like four soloists rampaging to their musical points. It was a telling irony: to so stretch a song live that was abbreviated on record.

This is great if you appreciate jazz the way Garrett does. For the less developed sensibility, much of the evening’s first set might have sounded like a collage of noise.

The divergent musical personalities of Garrett’s band drove this live performance to an admirable level of technical accomplishment. Throughout, pianist Vernell Brown placed his measured chording in contrast to Garrett’s ranging sax work (although Brown ranged nicely himself). Bassist Chris Funn wore little facial expression but he explored the dynamism of every fret, whether by ensemble or solo. Occasionally, he nodded knowingly to the other players.

Drummers like Ronald Bruner do not come along very often. Bruner’s technical mastery and his youthful ambition so empowered the quartet that the Vancouver faithful howled at his aural conclusions. His strokes and accents combined for stunning effect, sometimes sounding like ecstatic piston fire. One can only shake a head, and grin, when a drummer this good strides off a stage into the human world.

Kenny Garrett’s stage performance shows us how much he learned from Miles Davis.

Garrett’s too cool persona on stage, however, is not his mentor’s mythic presence. The crowd clapped and most expressed appreciation with the funky, rhythmic conclusion to the set, but the vast majority in this audience seemed slightly puzzled as waves of musical furore passed. Garrett urged on the crowd by calling for applause as many as three times. If you really are too cool, the music itself inspires critics to offer credit to the artist.

This may not be entirely Garrett’s fault. It is hard to say you love something if you may not understand it. On this night, few heads bobbed in time with what was happening on stage until the end.

No matter how you heard it, jazz is greatly refreshed when artists of Kenny Garrett’s supreme calibre travel to intimate venues to wail for a few dozen patrons. The jazz genre is alive and well. Garrett now proceeds with solo work (with Herbie Hancock, Roy Haynes and Roy Hargove) before reconvening his quartet for engagements in Europe this summer.

Kenny Garrett Web site:
www.kennygarrett.com


Shop

More Articles

Read Panama Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews Panama Jazz Festival 2017
by Mark Holston
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom Live Reviews Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
by Geoff Anderson
Published: February 20, 2017
Read The Cookers at Nighttown Live Reviews The Cookers at Nighttown
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 16, 2017
Read Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens Live Reviews Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "Sarajevo Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Sarajevo Jazz Festival 2016
by Francesco Martinelli
Published: November 18, 2016
Read "ECM Showcase at NYC Winter Jazzfest 2017" Live Reviews ECM Showcase at NYC Winter Jazzfest 2017
by Tyran Grillo
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "Barranquijazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Barranquijazz Festival 2016
by Mark Holston
Published: November 15, 2016
Read "Tommy Halferty Trio With Seamus Blake at JJ Smyth's" Live Reviews Tommy Halferty Trio With Seamus Blake at JJ Smyth's
by Ian Patterson
Published: February 23, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!