CATCHING UP WITH KARL DENSON

 
There are two lines happening right now - the line that leads to the modern jazz guys like Branford and the line that leads to hip-hop like The Roots. I really think that hip-hop is carrying the load of the innovation.
-Karl on modern jazz
 
Photo by Tobin Voggesser

What do you think about the state of modern jazz?


Karl Denson by Tobin Voggesser
I think there is some really cool stuff happening right now. There are two lines happening right now - the line that leads to the modern jazz guys like Branford and the line that leads to hip-hop like The Roots. I really think that hip-hop is carrying the load of the innovation.

Yeah, and the great thing about The Roots is that they are a real band playing everything 100-percent live.

The loops they write are beautiful and poignant. They are definitely one of the major players right now.

How did you meet the other guys in KD3?

Brett Sanders was the first drummer I asked to play in the Tiny Universe but he wasn't sure he was the right guy for the job as he was more schooled in jazz than funk. I later ended up playing with his younger brother John Staten in Tiny Universe, which is pretty funny. But I knew Brett was the guy for KD3, so I called him up and he's been playing with us ever since. I also got the numbers of two jazz keyboard players in San Diego when I was recruiting for the Tiny Universe. David Veith was the first guy I called and ended up playing with, but I had gone to see Anthony Smith play a bunch with his band Global Funk, and always knew he was someone I wanted to play with down the line.

What is your mindset when you go into the recording process?


KD3 by Brian Diescher
Normally I go rehearse with a band for a few days straight for up to 12 hours at a time before we record. For the KD3 record, I paired drummer Zak Najor from the old Greyboy Allstars lineup with Anthony Smith, and together we just knocked things out right in the studio and laid down five to six tracks. Then I brought in Eric Kalb from the current Greyboy lineup and Robert Walter to finish things up.

What can we expect on this KD3 record? Will there be any bells and whistles you don't hear live?

I think there will be some new things on there for sure. Writing wise, I tried to stretch myself out a bit more. It may be a bit more down-tempo than people are used to with Tiny Universe, more changes harmonically and it's definitely a "meaty" record.

Are there any vocals?

No, this is totally instrumental.

Tell us about your tour plans for the rest of the year with KD3?


Karl Denson by Aaron Williams
We're going to play a lot of jazz festivals this summer and hit up traditional venues as well. This year I also plan on finishing up the Tiny Universe record to be released next year and also play some shows with Benny D.

Can you tell me how you guys met?

I met Benny about five or six years ago when he was opening for the Tiny Universe. He gave me a CD and I really liked it and liked his writing, so we stayed in touch. We did a show together at Jazz Fest last year and I was really impressed with the band. I'm producing their next album and helping the band however I can.

You sometimes bring your kids on tour with you. Do your children aspire to play music?


Karl D - Sexual Chocolate
By Adam Davila
They love music! My nine-year old girl is playing piano, and I can safely say she is better than I am. She's also in a play called High School Musical. My 12-year old daughter wants to play guitar and my 11-year old son wants to play drums. Hopefully we will have the Denson Family Band in a few more years.

You play in New Orleans often and regularly sell out shows at Jazz Fest every year. How did the events of Hurricane Katrina affect you? What do you see for the future of that city and rich musical culture?

I'm still in shock really. I went back there a year after that happened and the city was still really messed up. Things are a long way from being totally rebuilt and taken care of. As far as the music, I see the community bouncing back to some extent but so many people were displaced. It's really too early to say what will happen.

You got your first national exposure playing with Lenny Kravitz. You reunited with him recently at Jazz Fest and a few other shows. Do you still talk to Lenny often and do you see yourself playing with him more in the future?


Karl Denson by Michael Weintrob
I talk to him every once-in-a-blue-moon but the guy is such a mystery to me, and it remains a mystery whether I will play with him again.

Lastly, you were a member of Sexual Chocolate in Eddie Murphy's Coming to America. Do you still get called out on that?

All the time man, all the time [laughs]. Tiny Universe even gave into that whole thing and we dressed up as Sexual Chocolate at a Halloween show a few years back. It was definitely a cool experience.

JamBase | San Diego
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http://www.karldenson.com/

[Published on: 4/24/07]

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Comments

id rather be phishing starstarstarstar Tue 4/24/2007 05:36PM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

id rather be phishing

denson put on an amazing show in boston in a little upper class lounge in the nicest hotel in boston. It was a shame that only 30-40 people showed up. I was the youngest there at 18, still played his ass off though. Hope i can get another intimate show like that

NickBoeka Tue 4/24/2007 05:44PM
+7 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

NickBoeka

The D stands for Diesel, damnit. Saw Greyboy a couple of days ago here in SF, in the park, for free, on a freakin' perfectly sunny day. Doesn't get any sweeter. Check out the new GBA disc, it's a gem.

cliftonhanger420 Tue 4/24/2007 06:18PM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

karl denson rocks! saw in charlotte at city fest and open for the other ones in alpine. put on solid shows each time. i dig GBA too. looking forward to the new trio.

DJ Saturday Baxter Tue 4/24/2007 08:04PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

DJ Saturday Baxter

Denson is the man! He is one cool kat!

All Loving Liberal White Guy starstarstarstarstar Tue 4/24/2007 09:30PM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

All Loving Liberal White Guy

Karl Denson is a class act. He is one of the few good and unique saxaphone players who's music doesn't sound like that crap you hear playing while you are in the frozen food section at Safeway.I totally enjoyed reading this in the Q and A format. As far as his studio albums are concerned 1997's "The D Stand for Diesel" with the unjustly overlooked jazz singer and elder statesman Andy Bey is the diggity drizzle. 1994's "Chunky Pecan Pie" will also get the asses shakin' at any party.

Ha Ha, Lenny Kravitz. Keep up those GAP commercials.

Most people don't know this but Karl Denson actually played the sax in that ficticious band called SEXUAL CHOCALATE in the movie COMING TO AMERICA back in '88. Eddie Murphy played the singer (like he does with all the characters in his film) named Randy Watson. He's all like "MMmmmnnn, Girl you look so good somebody oughta put you on a plate and sop you up with a biscuit" He also did sax in that Soul Glo song

"Just let your soul glo---feelin' oh so silky smooth. Just let it shine through. Just let your soooooooooooul glo, baby. Soul Glo"

Maestro starstarstarstarstar Tue 4/24/2007 09:45PM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Maestro

ABSOLUTE RAW TALENT

KD bring the noise, and the party on sax/flute. KDTU shows were some of the best dance parties ever. GUy is a sicko!

carphishhead starstarstarstarstar Tue 4/24/2007 10:01PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

carphishhead

Great article - saw some TREXual Chocolate on 10/30/05. KDTU was all funked out 70s style with the soul glo afros - played tons of covers like Rocket Man and the Star Trek theme...Karl and the drummer had a dance-off...it was ridiculous.

"Hardest working man in show business - Karl Denson"
-- Bill Nershi at Langerado 3/13/05

danpfunk Tue 4/24/2007 10:16PM
+6 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Nice interview. Great questions.

Saw the trio a few months ago, and I love Greyboy AS, but Please Please Please....in honor of JB, if nothing else...Karl bring back the funk.

It's a small planet, and a Tiny Universe.

Jidi Wed 4/25/2007 01:40AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Jidi

Karl D is definitly one funky motherfucker but cmon man, we need a more optimistic attitude about neworleans - things are progressing and theres a positive vibe goin on in the city that everyone will get to see when Karl blows the roof off les bon temps.
(oh and sweet pics)

MutilatedLips Wed 4/25/2007 09:48AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

MutilatedLips

Give it up fo' my band, Sexual Chocolate! Sexual Chocolate everybody!!

Duncan905 starstarstarstar Wed 4/25/2007 10:04AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Duncan905

danpfunk :: 4/24/2007 10:16 PM +2
Nice interview. Great questions.


Seconded!

chasetc20 starstarstarstarstar Wed 4/25/2007 10:14AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Get out and see the ''Tiny Universe'' Denson fans, this guy has yet to displease me every show filled with positive energy and great tunes. Rock on Karl

All Loving Liberal White Guy Wed 4/25/2007 11:28AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

All Loving Liberal White Guy

Rev.Brown: You may know him from the whats going down episode of Dat's My Mama, Ladies and gentleman, give it up for Mr. Randy Watson.

Randy Watson: Sexual Choclate, everybody!!! SEXUAL CHOCLATE!!!

Old Babershop Man: Dat boy goood.

Other old Barbershop man: Yeah, good and terrible.

If a man wants to call himself Muhammed Ali, I say Muhammed Ali.
Clarence: Mama call him Clay - I call him Clay. Cassius Clay.

MutilatedLips Wed 4/25/2007 01:54PM
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MutilatedLips

Right on Maximus! Coming to America is a classic.

WooWoo Wed 4/25/2007 03:59PM
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A little side note for the Karl fans. Karl & some of the side projects mentioned in this article (BLUSIRKUT, On the One, Anthony Smith) are all playing at the Bobolink Music Festival in Northern CA Memorial Day Weekend...

misterkrull starstarstarstarstar Wed 4/25/2007 05:31PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Do yourself a favor - go see KD3 for an intimate look at how damn good Karl D really is. I've seen him live a bunch of times and had alot of fun. Seeing him with the trio will make you appreciate him even more.

jambandfan starstarstarstarstar Wed 4/25/2007 06:03PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I will be forever grateful to Bonnaroo 1 for introducing me to such a great musician. I've seen him a couple times since, and he never disappoints. At last year's Down on the Farm Festival, he invited jeff coffin experience on stage and they jammed together the whole show (Karl was w/ KD3) - excellent show. Thanks for the interview, it was a good read. :)

roberto767 Wed 4/25/2007 11:25PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

roberto767

I saw the KD3 a couple weeks in a row during their residency a few months ago in San Diego at a bar called Winstons. A lot more jazzy than Greyboy, but pretty effin' sweet. Even met Karl after the show. A real nice, cool guy. Check 'em out in your town.

featherlight Thu 4/26/2007 12:25AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Greyboy put on a great show this past sunday @ the Park for Earthday. The scene was so great. Not to mention sitting in the trees with Ratdog??

gabus! starstarstarstarstar Thu 4/26/2007 07:00AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

gabus!

Karl = god

thirdcoastson starstarstarstarstar Thu 4/26/2007 09:41AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

thirdcoastson

Karl D is a bad MOFO!!! The man brings the positive funk. I first saw him in 99' at the Howlin Wolf for the Superjam and instantly hooked right in! I have seen each of his projects most recently KD3 in Austin,TX and was impressed. Nice article and photos. THAT BOY GOOD!!!

DG66 starstarstarstarstar Thu 4/26/2007 10:57AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

CATCH GREYBOY AT GRATEFULFEST!!! DENSON WITH DSO! YEEEEAAWW!
GREYBOY IS FLIBBIN SICK!!!!!! KARL IS DA MAN!
NICE ARTICLE! GREAT BAND!

carnivore2k starstarstarstarstar Thu 4/26/2007 03:18PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Karl is da man! He is super positive and the tiny universe ruled it! His bandmembers are also doing great. I saw Blu Sirkut at Burning Man and they blew me away! KD3 kicks ass too.

Alex.Anastas starstarstarstarstar Thu 4/26/2007 05:17PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Alex.Anastas

Karl D was in SEXUAL CHOCOLATE'S band?!? Shit, man. I have seen that movie SO many times and I never noticed! I guess I will have to go back and check it out!

He rocks it out, the new GBA album is the tits (IF YOU DON'T HAVE IT, GET IT NOW, LIKE ASAP!) and Karl is a very nice guy taboot. Good on him!

shackdude starstarstarstarstar Thu 4/26/2007 10:00PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Great article. Long Live Diesel!!!

All Loving Liberal White Guy Thu 4/26/2007 10:07PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

All Loving Liberal White Guy


Cleo: "Look... me and the McDonald's people got this little misunderstanding. See, they're McDonald's... I'm McDowell's. They got the Golden Arches, mine is the Golden Arcs. They got the Big Mac, I got the Big Mick. We both got two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions, but their buns have sesame seeds. My buns have no seeds."

Clarence: Oh there they go. There they go, every time I start talkin 'bout boxing, a white man got to pull Rocky Marciano out their ass. That's their one, that's their one. Rocky Marciano. Rocky Marciano. Let me tell you something once and for all. Rocky Marciano was good, but compared to Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano ain't shit.

Landlord: "Hey Stu, your rent's due, motherf*cker! Now don't be pulling that falling down the stairs shit on me again, you hear! Now you conscious! Every month, the same damn thang."


MutilatedLips Fri 4/27/2007 11:55AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

MutilatedLips

"He whooped Joe Louis's ass"
"thats true...he did beet Joe Louis's ass"
"Joe Louis was 75 years old at the time"

"In a couple more years I'll make assistant manager...and thats when the big bucks start rolling in!"

happydestiny starstarstarstarstar Fri 4/27/2007 05:45PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

happydestiny

you the man Karl D

RedHeaven starstarstarstarstar Sun 4/29/2007 02:46PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

RedHeaven

Hell yeah thanks for an article on one of my fave artists of all time.
I CANT WAIT FOR BOBOLINK FESTIVAL! It takes place Memorial Day weekend and is a Karl Fans delight. Its up in the Sierras on the feather River on private property. Karl Denson is artist at large, with BluSirkut, On the One, and Anthony Smith......a Densons Dream....www.bobolinkmusicfestival.com
I love Greyboy, but I cannot wait to hear KD with Brian Jordan again someday ala Tiny Universe. Its going to be a real treat to spend time with him in the Sierras and possible collaberations with all of the other artists joining the line up like garaj mahal and ALBINO.

jollyholly Wed 5/2/2007 01:22PM
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Nice to see Karl get some publicity, but to have the guy who runs the Diesel's promo & street team write the article??? C'mon Jambase, you're smarter than that.

rabbitsheriff Sat 5/26/2007 12:03PM
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Denson's the man...I will travel 3000 miles to KDTU!! He spoke of Sexual Chocolate as a Halloween treat...what about Trexual Chocolate in '05?? :P

Image Hosting by PictureTrail.com

Maestro Thu 5/31/2007 12:59PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Maestro

WOOOOOOOOHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAN ALL POSITIVE MESSAGE BOARD!!!!!!!

GUESS IT JUST TOOK A LITTLE KD TO MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY....


RESPECT.

foxs241 starstarstarstarstar Fri 6/1/2007 10:16AM
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Gret Pics! Cant get enough KD. Especially when he teams up with R. Walters & GBA. I am excited to here this KD3 stuff. Very cool Article.