Saxophonist Kenny Garrett, one of the most important and distinctive voices of his generation as both a player and composer, brings his innovative sound to Davie on Saturday in a concert for South Florida Jazz.
Garret will appear in an acoustic setting at Nova Southeastern University’s Miniaci Performing Arts Center with a quintet featuring Vernell Brown on piano, Corcoran Holt on bass, McClenty Hunter on drums and Rudy Bird on percussion.
Born in Detroit, Garrett, 53, learned jazz tradition on stage. He was 18 and fresh out of high school when he joined the Duke Ellington Orchestra, then led by Duke’s son Mercer. Garrett stayed with the band for 3 1/2 years, and he was on his way.
His career has included stints with top ensembles such as the Mel Lewis Orchestra and John McLaughlin’s Grammy-winning Five Peace Band and as a sideman for Art Blakey, McCoy Tyner and other major artists, most notably Miles Davis (for five years) and most recently Chick Corea.
His latest album, Pushing the World Away, his 17th as a leader, has been nominated for a Grammy in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category.
The title, he explains in the notes on his Web page, has to do with the fact that “to record an album requires a lot of preparation and to conceptualize the music I had to push away to receive the blessings and gifts from these songs.”
On both the alto and soprano sax, Garrett has a full, rich sound and a highly melodic, storytelling approach. Pushing the World Away, often suggests a followup to the previous Seeds From the Underground, another varied collection of original compositions, in which Garrett paid tribute to artists who inspired him, including tracks such as JMac, for saxophonist Jackie McLean, and Haynes Here for drummer Roy Haynes.
In Pushing the World Away, Garrett celebrates Sonny Rollins (J’ouvert), Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes (Chucho’s Mambo), Chick Corea (Hey, Chick) and pianist Donald Brown (Brother Brown), among others. The title track, which features Garrett on soprano sax and includes chanting, suggests an homage to saxophonist John Coltrane from his My Favorite Things days.
“I wasn’t thinking of continuing the tribute idea like I had on Seeds … and before that on Songbook ,” Garrett said in a recent interview. “I was just writing.”
His approach is a testament to Garrett’s versatility and broad, lived-in understanding of the many styles of jazz, be it straight ahead post-bop, Latin jazz or electric jazz-rock fusion.