Kenny Garrett ‘Do Your Dance!’ (Mack Avenue) 4/5

kenny-garrettNow a major leader in his own right who can perform on equal terms with the likes of Pat Metheny and Pharoah Sanders, saxophonist Kenny Garrett continues his tenure with Mack Avenue and a new recording that demonstrates that the multi-reedist is still on the top of his game. Once again long-time collaborator and pianist Vernell l. Brown Jr is on hand with a quartet that is occasionally augmented by percussion and, on two pieces, by rapper Mista Ena aka Donald Brown Jr. A varied set illustrates Garrett’s awareness of both contemporary musical influences and world beats, while retaining his own distinctive and individual identity. The oriental-flavoured ‘Persian steps’ is an outstanding modal groove with Garrett on flute and fine comping from the pianist. On the more lyrical number, ‘Bossa’, the leader is in more relaxed form with some easy on the ear Brazilian percussion. What is sometimes overlooked is just how fine a composer Kenny Garrett is and serving an apprenticeship with Miles Davis back in the late 1980s did him no harm whatsoever. Catchy riffs and fine interplay between piano and saxophone (a feature throughout) permeate ‘Backyard groove’, with some McCoy Tyner-esque piano vamps while the more sensitive side to the band’s repertoire is exemplified on, ‘Waltz (3 sisters)’ with Garrett reverting to soprano saxophone and a floating piano feel created. In a Caribbean mood, ‘Calypso chant’, takes a leaf out of the Sonny Rollins book and is at once a joyous and lilting mid-tempo number with delicate soloing. As for the grittier title track, it is an uptempo funk-tinged mainly instrumental piece with a rap interlude. Kenny Garrett has continued on with themes that emerged on his previous 2013, ‘Pushing the world away’. album for Mack Avenue, but adds new elements here, and he would be well served pursuing further the exploration of Middle Eastern themes since this opens up a whole new exciting side to the band;s sound and affords the listener to hear the leader on flute. A solid and varied album that will delight long-term fans and attract new listeners to his craft.

Tim Stenhouse