Kenny Garrett – Do Your Dance!
(Mack Avenue. MAC1098. CD Review by Patrick Hadfield)
Multi-instrumentalistKenny Garrett likes to make people dance, and on Do Your Dance! he wants people to do whatever dance they like. He’s produced a record of largely optimistic, energetic music to help you along.
Two drummers help him out, Ronald Bruner on four tracks and McLenty Hunter on five, on four of which he’s also joined by percussionist Rudy Bird. Vernell Brown plays piano and Corcoran Holt bass on all tracks bar one, Persian Steps, on which Garrett plays piano and flute. On most of the tunes Garrett plays alto sax, playing soprano only on one, Waltz (3 Sisters).
They are joined joined on Wheatgrass Shot (Straight to the Head) by rapper Mista Enz, son of co-producer Donald Brown. Over a opening piano rhythm, the rap feels integral to the music rather than something bolted on after the event. This is jazz, with spoken words. The jazz is good, too: it’s not that the words are covering anything up.
Mista Enz has a few lines at the end of Do Your Dance!, too. Most of the tune is a rocky riff with an appropriately fast beat over which Garrett lays down a choppy solo. Then, a coda to the main tune, they slow down, Enz entreating us to dance.
Garrett seems to invoke his influences throughout this album. The first track, Philly, starts with some sombre piano chords before tearing into a fast hard bop piece worthy of Blakey, with whom Garrett played early in his career. It is hard not hear Coltrane in Garrett’s saxophone here, and Vernell Brown sounds uncannily like McCoy Tyner, who coincidentally came from Philadelphia.
The Coltrane influence is also present in Chasing the Wind, the closing track. This is a fast tune reminiscent of Giant Steps or Miles Davis’ Seven Steps to Heaven, and Garrett plays it with speed and fluency, producing a dazzling cascade of notes. Bruner keeps his cymbals swinging, driving the rhythm forward; Vernell Brown lays down another exciting piano solo. A great hardbop finish!
Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield.