Happy Birthday Karl Denson: Listen To KDTU’s Rolling Stones Tribute From 2018

Hear Diesel deliver Stones classics like "Under My Thumb," "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," "Miss You" and more.

By Nate Todd Dec 27, 2021 10:09 am PST

Karl Denson celebrates his 65th birthday today. The renowned Southern California-raised saxophonist and flutist was born on December 27, 1956. Karl D would go on to put together an impressive resume, as both a bandleader and in-demand woodwind specialist.

The first bullet point on Karl D’s resume is an interesting one. He played sax in the band Sexual Chocolate in the landmark 1988 film Coming To America starring Eddie Murphy. The band is fronted by one of Murphy’s multiple characters in the film, Randy Watson. Denson then got a gig touring and recording with Lenny Kravitz, appearing on Lenny’s 1989 debut album Let Love Rule as well as 1991’s Mama Said.

Karl put out a string of culinary named solo albums in the ‘90s including Blackened Red Snapper, Herbal Turkey Breast and Chunky Pecan Pie. The mid-90s also saw Karl D co-founding a key group in the burgeoning funk and soul revival, The Greyboy Allstars, and along with DJ Greyboy, produced the band’s landmark 1994 debut album, West Coast Boogaloo.

Denson continued to work with Greyboy Allstars and also maintained his solo work, putting out groove anthem albums like Dance Lesson #2 and The Bridge, the latter an LP with his band Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. Karl continued to lead KDTU, work with Greyboy Allstars and also lend his expertise to artists such as Galactic drummer Stanton Moore, Steve Winwood and Slightly Stoopid throughout the 2000s. But perhaps the crown jewel in Karl D’s resume as a session and touring musician was joining The Rolling Stones in 2014 following the death of longtime saxophonist Bobby Keys.

Denson is a touring member with the Stones to this day and since linking up with the legendary rockers has performed the band’s music with KDTU. On Halloween 2018, Karl D brought a Game Of Thrones clad the Tiny Universe — guitarist DJ Williams, bassist Chris Stillwell, keyboardists David Veith and Kenneth Crouch, drummer Zak Najor, trumpeter Chris Littlefield and guitarist Seth Freeman — to Brooklyn Bowl in New York City for the first of three Game of Stones concerts (the Halloween run would continue in Colorado). Trey Anastasio Band saxophonist James Casey was KDTU’s special guest in Brooklyn.

KDTU fittingly opened with the Game Of Thrones theme before getting to Stones material like “Live With Me,” an instrumental “Under My Thumb,” “Time Is On My Side” and the sax featuring song “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” among others. Karl D also fit in solo material old and new like the title track to The Bridge and “I’m Your Biggest Fan” which would appear on KDTU’s 2019 album, Gnomes And Badgers. The band closed the show with a bevy of Stones classics including “Miss You,” “Play With Fire,” “Tumbling Dice,” “Brown Sugar” and “Bitch” to bring the evening to a close.

To celebrate Karl Denson’s birthday, hear him lead his band through Game Of Stones on Halloween 2018 at Brooklyn Bowl:

More Karl Denson on JamBase
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