June 2005

Kenny Garrett Quartet
June 30, 2005Star StageToronto
Report by David Fujino with Photo by Roger Humbert
Under an oven-hot festival tent, alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett worked overtime to inspire and entertain.

His first tune rushed right out of the blocks and expressed the Coltrane legacy, a heads-down open arms approach to playing that strives to bring players and listeners into a trance-like state.

Bassist Kris Funn is playing a repeated bass figure. Pianist Carlos McKinney sounds and re-sounds with his left hand; his right hand is his mind streaming. Drummer Ronald Bruner asserts the polyrhythmic time. Garrett rocks up and down, up and down, his alto an instrument of ardent invocation.

But it seems he understood it's not for everyone — this intense mantra of modal jazz that served as an opener — so Garrett moved into a set that mostly had a strong R&B flavour and singable melodies.

When Garrett kicked off McCoy Tyner's tune, "Wayne's Thing", a funky and sophisticated urban shuffle, the crowd leaned forward and got involved. Others in the crowd got pulled in by the band's use of liberal and frequent 'quotes' in their solos, a practice which stems from Bop masters like Bird, Diz, and particularly Sonny Rollins.

We heard: bugle calls in "Shut Your Mouth"; the opening notes of the rousing "William Tell Overture"; the bass line from "The Creator Has a Master Plan" (Pharoah Sanders) ran throughout another tune; and most remarkably, some of us swore that Garrett had played the entire 'Rolling Home' spiritual from Dvorak's Fifth Symphony.

Garrett worked extra hard to entertain us and bring us in: he announced his sidemen's names two or three times in the style of a Soul Review; he beckoned for more applause; and he finally left us with an evening of intensely played and well-executed music.

Ronald Bruner — drums
Kris Funn — bass
Carlos McKinney — piano
Kenny Garrett — alto/soprano saxophone
We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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Roger Humbert
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