Sunday, May 01, 2005

Kenny Garrett - Princeton, NJ 4/30/05

I went down to Princeton last night to see Kenny Garrett's band in a small performance space on the campus of the University. There was a very sparse crowd in attendance but that didn't stop the band from putting on an excellent performance. The most exciting part of the concert came right in the beginning when the band launched into a 20 minute high speed joy ride that had the crowd pinned in their seats. Garrett was rocking back and forth as he sent out reams of notes from his alto while the band egged him on every step of the way. The only thing I can think to compare it to would be John Coltrane's "Chasin' the Trane" from his Village Vanguard recordings, and as in those famous recordings, the most important person to Garrett was the drummer, in this case Nasyr Abdul Al-khabyyr who kept pace with him in Elvin Jones like fashion especially when Garrett waved off the bass and piano (Nat Reeves and Carlos McKinney respectively) to lean into an explosive duet. It was an amazing performance with Garrett exploring the outer fringes of jazz but never once losing control of what he set out to do.

After the opening epic, the rest of the concert came as something of an anti-climax, but was still an excellent mix of mostly up and mid tempo tunes with a dash of funk, allowing each of the bandmembers to solo at length. Overall, this was an excellent concert and I hope that this band gets into the studio again or is recorded live soon as they have a superb sound.

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