Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sunday Soul - Explore Karl Denson's Tiny Universe

Karl Denson is such a consummate performer, one who appears here, there, and everywhere. He got his big break back in 1988 when Lenny Kravitz asked him to play on his song (and eventually the entire album) Let Love Rule (as well as joining him on tour). Two more albums later, Denson decided to change paths to the jazz road, eventually co-forming the Greyboy Allstars ( one of the first songs he and DJ Greyboy laid down was Unwind Your Mind, which you can check out below if you're not familiar). Eventually Denson moved on from the acid-jazz groove to create a project of his own, Tiny Universe, own which shifted his sound towards more of a jazz-funk, as well as recording a handful of solo efforts.

His latest album, Brother's Keeper, brings Tiny Universe back into that fold, and continues in that vein, displaying some jazz tendencies, but also fronting a funk edge. Some superb instrumental solos (including some creative flute work and Denson burning things up on the sax), and some soulful vocals. In addition to his regular line-up, Denson also recruited an all-star cast including Meshell Ndegeocello, Marc Ford (Black Crowes), Jon Foreman (Switchfoot), and musicians from Lenny Kravitz's band, The Dap Kings, and The Greyboy Allstars. Put all these ingredients together and you get a meaty concoction of jazz, soul, funk, and gospel which will stick to your ribs. Where as some of his solo works gets a little creatively frisky (check out the use of scratching on Like, Like Dope below), Brother's Keeper, while still obviously melding some elements, stays more in the retro roots flavor. Try the lead of track, Shake It Out, below.

and some older ones:

Visit his website, his label Shanachie, and become his friend on MySpace.

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