Mack Avenue Is Filled with Hot Movement as Kenny Garrett Demands 'Do Your Dance!' [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt m.greenblatt@classicalite.com | Aug 05, 2016 07:56 AM EDT
Alto sax man Kenny Garrett even sings (sort of) on his new 'Do Your Dance!' (Photo : Jimmy Katz)

Detroit saxophonist/composer/arranger/pianist/percussionist/vocalist (although that's stretching it) Kenny Garrett, 55, is up amongst the elite of the elite when it comes to jazz superstars. His new Do Your Dance! (Mack Avenue) is yet another chapter of a book long unfinished traversing his time in the Mercer Ellington Orchestra, the Grammy Award-winning Five Peace Band with Chick Corea and John McLaughlin, his apprenticeships in the bands of Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Donald Byrd and Mile Davis (with whom he first ascended to stardom) and, of course, his tenure as an international phenomenon under his own name and with Sting. That said, you can rest assured that any new Kenny Garrett CD will be amongst the best of the year. Do Your Dance! is no exception.

This kinetic travelogue starts in "Philly," gets up a head of steam in his own "Backyard Groove," and before all nine tracks blow you away, there's stops for a "Calypso Chant" (where he even sings...sort of), a quick hop to Rio for some "Bossa," a "Waltz" for his three sisters and a mind-expanding trip through "Persian Steps" where he switches to piano, backed only by flute, drums, chants and accordion. "Wheatgrass (Straight to the Head)" and the title tune have rapper Mista Enz doing his thing.

The band is stellar. Drummer Ronald Bruner, Jr. (Stevie Wonder), percussionist Rudy Bird (Michael Jackson) and co-producer Donald Brown (Art Blakey & His Jazz Messengers) have played with the biggest and the best. Plus, pianist Vernell Brown, Jr., bassist Corcoran Holt and second drummer McClenty Hunter shine on like crazy diamonds.

In 2006, Beyond The Wall made me sit up and take notice. In 2012, Seeds From the Underground made me a fan. In 2013, Pushing the World Away convinced me he could blow with the best of them. Now, with Do Your Dance!, Kenny Garrett has reached a Marsalis kind of respect forevermore and one must follow him unbidden for the rest of his career like previous generations followed Miles, Monk or Mingus.

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