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Sketches of MD - Live at the Iridium CD
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Throughout his illustrious career, saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist/composer Kenny Garrett has accumulated multiple Grammy® nominations, countless collaborations, and a long list of accolades from his peers. With 'Sketches of MD', Garrett adds several historic firsts to his résumé: the first live recording of his pairing with the veteran saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, Garrett's first recorded set at New York City's famed Iridium Jazz Club, and his first release on Mack Avenue Records.
'Sketches of MD', is a capricious excursion into open-ended melodies over grooves that reflect the artistry of key sidemen from Miles Davis' many groups - from John Coltrane to Kenny himself. Consisting of five extended original compositions, it's a relaxed record of a performance in March 2008 by Garrett at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City with his band (Benito Gonzales on piano, Nat Reeves on bass, and Jamire Williams on drums) and special guest, tenor saxophone legend Pharoah Sanders.
Personnel: Kenny Garrett (alto saxophone, bass clarinet, organ, vocals), Pharoah Sanders (tenor saxophone, vocals), Nat Reeves (bass), Benito Gonzalez (piano, Fender Rhodes, synthesizer), Jamire Williams (drums)
"The Ring" sits broadly in Coltrane modal territory...Sanders works his solo towards out-of-body falsetto yelps that are beautifully controlled...enjoyable.
-- The Wire, (Philip Clark), December 2008
(4 stars) Balances intense modal jazz with super-hip soul...captures the mood...veteran saxophonist Pharoah Sanders' spiritual cry is an added bonus. -- Financial Times, (Mike Hobart), September 20, 2008
(5 stars) An album of panache, spirit and love...this gig featured marvellous music-making. You'll wish you'd been there. -- BBC Music Magazine, (Barry Witherden), November 2008
...stoking its Love Supreme intensity. Some infectious Herbie Hancock-style funk follows...Garrett's band know how to raise a roof with style. -- The Times, (John Bungey), October 4, 2008
Catches the incandescent quality of a typical Garrett gig...Garrett is fiercely effective on the anthemically Coltraneish opener...It's good party music. -- The Guardian, (John Fordham), September 26, 2008
The band roars in at full throttle with The Ring, a homage to John Coltrane, with the saxophone of Sanders... -- The Times, (John Bungey), October 4, 2008
The range of material...post-Trane Afro-Asian modes to funk via gospel and hard bop...and the impressive flexibility of Garrett's band...are writ large. -- Jazzwise, (Kevin Le Gendre), November 2008
Top Customer Reviews
1) The Ring - An intense spiritual piece based around a simple repeating theme with both Garrett and special guest Pharoah Sanders blowing fierce solos comprising of short intense bursts of sound.Quality stuff. ***** rating.
2) Intro to Africa - a more deeply spiritual piece than track one with Sanders blowing a less intense,more thoughtful and lyrical solo than on the previous piece.**** rating.
3) Sketches of MD - Pointless ode to the great Miles Davis with a repetitive groove that really leads nowhere with the soloists just noodling with distorted horn/synth sounds without any real structure.
4) Wayne's thang - Is a lively almost hip hoppish piece with smooth synth sounds and echoey sax solos with the great Pharoah Sanders getting down and dirty with a real honking sqeaking solo.Worth hearing for Pharoah's solo alone.
5) Happy people - Although it has a nice melody anybody who has seen Garrett live knows that this one can go on forever with chorus after chorus after chorus (just as it does here)and can get pretty annoying in the end.rating **.
There you have it - the best and worst of kenny Garrett all on one cd.After a few plays this one had me reaching for a quality Garrett album such as "Beyond the wall" or "songbook". Garrett is really at his best when he gets down to some serious blowing.An album with everything from Spirituals to hip hop and funk takes an open minded listener to enjoy it and in my opinion is just too varied for a single session.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I found myself surprised upon hearing in "Wayne's Thang", a song from an earlier album of his ('Triology', if your interested) some synthesized jazz organ. Even more surprised upon hearing Kenny playing through an electrified setup, putting a bit of echo and wah-wah effects on his saxophone. I was also surprised on how much Sanders was allowed to open up. Famous to many as the add on to the late John Coltrane quartet, Sanders has a unique ability to make his saxophone wail and scream in ways that most musicians can't emulate and most listeners can't listen to. On 'Wall', he was subdued, to say the least, almost shockingly tasteful. Here, he is given much more room to go crazy. Here I found it significantly more palatable than with his work with Trane, and indeed sometimes very interesting. That having been said, if you don't at the very least find multiphonics and split reed stuff interesting, you may want to give this one a listen before you buy.
Now, this was not a bad album by any stretch, really, those two shocks to the system aside, it is quite enjoyable. "Intro to Africa" is a favorite of mine, with just a really great, deep groove, as is the closing track "Happy People", which is, as the name might imply, truly exuberant, with Kenny getting the audience to sing along and, I assume, probably dance as well. His ne rhythm section is great as well. The drummer, Jamire Williams, is particularly impressive with some really fun double bass drum hits that can really throw you if you're not ready for them.
All in all, a very solid work, but some may want to be careful of Sanders, as he is something of a controversial figure.
This album captures the high energy that he is notorious for when you see him live. From the very first note he plays he goes non stop and always manages to get the crowd involved and to leave with a huge smile on their face. His stamina and ability to create musical artwork on the fly is absolutely amazing.
Sketches of MD and Wayne's Thang would have to be my favorite tracks if I am forced to choose. Wayne's Thang is just straight up funk which I love and Kenny's use of effects on his sax just adds to the flavor of the tune. Pharoah Sanders and Kenny obviously have a deep friendship and this is reflected in their musical conversations. I love everything Kenny does, but this album will be hard to top! However, I have no doubt Kenny will find a way. Thanks Kenny... you make me never want to stop listening, learning and playing!!!