Photo by Tobin Voggesser
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
What do you think about the state of modern jazz?
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.
Karl Denson by Tobin Voggesser
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?
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.
KD3 by Brian Diescher
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?
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.
Karl Denson by Aaron Williams
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?
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.
Karl D - Sexual Chocolate
By Adam Davila
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?
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.
Karl Denson by Michael Weintrob
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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