Those who have heard Karl Denson's tenor sax playing with his band Tiny Universe, have seen him alongside the seminal acid jazz band Greyboy Allstars or even in a more regimented setting performing with Lenny Kravitz tend to be persuaded that he is one of the pioneers who will be keeping jazz vital with-in many varied musical scenes.
Unlike other players who are easily pigeonholed, Denson is a formative visionary with a jazz philosophy fueled by his joy in getting bodies to move. He prefers to push the envelope when it comes to his collaborations and therefore his career has taken on many forms. Denson's broad range of projects has earned him a reputation as a groundbreaking musician, equally potent as a masterful collaborator and an innovative solo artist.
From the beginning of his musical education, the California native filtered both the funk and soul of Motown and Stax with the deep searching of jazzmen like Yusef Lateef, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and, of course, John Coltrane. Having performed with a broad range of artists including the likes of, Medeski Martin And Wood, Fred Wesley and James Brown, Denson has constantly re-invented ways to stimulate his listeners' minds while simultaneously making them move their feet.
The King of sax has just wrapped up the recording of "Lunar Orbit", his newest endeavor, featuring The Karl Denson Trio (KD3).
KD3 is a stripped-down unit of keyboard, drums and sax that owes as much to the venerable tradition of jazz organ groups as to the contemporary groove-based milieu of the Greyboy Allstars. The Trio is bold statement about jazz - past, present and future and in keeping with Karl's vision of jazz as dance music, the project manages to find an innovative approach to jazz in some varied & unexpected places.
KD3 will satisfy the needs of the jazz aficionados and funksters alike while challenging both to evolve. Combining elements of modern funk, hip-hop, jazz and psychedelia, the sonically adventurous and instrumental Lunar Orbit is possibly Denson's best work to date. It's a potpourri of well constructed motifs that aim seemingly toward blasting traditional jazzbo's into interstellar space.
Denson notes, "I felt the need for a musical challenge and playing in a trio setting helps me to open up my musical head space. As an artist, the Trio allows me to present an array of music in a more exposed and demanding way."
Lunar Orbit is but the latest piece of the Karl Denson puzzle. Having earned international popularity as a headlining artist on the touring circuit, Denson is still intent on expanding the perception of his music. KD3 reveals Karl Denson's hard-earned integrity and a distinctive sound that defies simple categorizations. As both a student and a purveyor of a tradition that includes James Brown and Jimi Hendrix as much as it does The Roots and Outkast, Denson knows that the meaning is in the music – however you classify it.