[JPL] Kenny Garrett "Sketches Of MD" featuring Pharoah Sanders

MICHAEL P STRATTON dreamtrane at sbcglobal.net
Thu Aug 28 10:17:08 EDT 2008


I've been eagerly anticipating the release of this CD since I first heard about it.

Kenny Garrett's first recording for Mack Avenue Records is Sketches Of MD, Live At The Iridium, and features Pharoah Sanders. From my first listening I was stirred the same way I've been by the immediacy of some of jazz history's other great live recordings - Coltrane at the Village Vanguard, Monk and Johnny Griffin at the Five Spot. Some of it is that good. Espescially the first two tracks.

All the tracks are long (nine to fourteen minutes) and allow for extended improvisation and development.    

The Ring is a modal vamp run down with great energy. Hearing Kenny and Pharoah solo back to back on this track is inspiring, a passing of the torch and man does it burn. The synth backing to Benito Gonzalez's piano solo was initially a little distracting. But the sweetening is subtle and measured.  

Intro To Africa is a bluesy number that allows the players to acknowledge some roots. I've always held that great jazz players can play the heck out of the blues. It's a blast to hear Pharoah's tenor cutting through the fog here.

Sketches Of MD is sonically more experimental, subdued and exploratory, mostly over a driving beat by Jamire Williams on drums and Nat Reeves on bass. The rhythm section is excellent throughout this recording.

Wayne's Thing establishes a groove before Kenny's opening statement, a spare and catchy melody. This is a jaunty little thing until and I thought it was just the quartet. Pharoah's entrance is dramatic, brief and exclamatory. 

Happy People closes the CD with an uptempo feel, electronics again, even Kenny soloing through his synth(?) ala Miles from the 70s. Kenny Garrett always has a strong connection with the audience, and this track exhibits how much fun the audience was having in the moment. Hip hop exhortations over a beat show how he works a crowd, ending the record. Must have been fun...I'm guessing critics will find fault with this track, but why can't a jazz recording be just fun?

Great work - looking forward to hearing Kenny Garrett at the Detroit Jazz Fest this weekend!

Mike Stratton
Vinyl Side of Midnight
790 W. Lake Lansing Rd.
East Lansing, MI. 48823

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