Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Orbit in Karl Densonís Tiny Universe

Denson to perform a one-of-a-kind musical experience

Express Staff Writer

Karl Denson's Tiny Universe is a music experience combining jazz, funk, r&b, hip-hop and more Photo by

It's not often that unique musicians such as Karl Denson come to perform in small venues like Whiskey Jacques' in Ketchum. Denson has played mega music and jazz festivals such as Bonnaroo to hole-in-the-wall bars and special venues such as JamCruise.

"JamCruise is a nice vacation," Denson said. "You don't work that much. You hang out and play, and we get to see other shows. You are stuck on a boat and there's nothing to do but to hang out with each other."

Denson has been "hanging out" with musicians for decades. His five years with the Grey Boy Allstars led to his own band Karl Denson's Tiny Universe in 1998. The Grey Boy Allstars and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe have similar sounds of unique funk and jazz rhythms.

Denson is based in San Diego and has spent a great part of his life touring the country. He is a performer who is addictive to watch, and he plays saxophone as if it's an extension of his body. And, his band follows his lead closely with its "West Coast Boogaloo" style.

"We always mix up things," he said. "We are having fun. We've gotten tight, and we are enjoying it."

The band's recent release, "Brother's Keeper," is a classic Karl Denson's Tiny Universe album. The album has been part of the band's tour since September 2009. Denson wrote most of the songs, which are soulful, jazzy and signature Karl Denson's Tiny Universe sound.

"Songwriting is a craft," Denson said. "The cool thing about being song oriented is that it's a nice break in our sets. It's a nice release from all our jams."

The band is known for long jams, which allow every musician to strut their talent, which includes Chris Littlefield, Brian Jordan, David Veith, Chris Stillwell and John Staten. In addition, "Brother's Keeper" was made with Meshell Ndegeocello, Marc Ford of the Black Crowes, musicians from Lenny Kravitz's Band, The Dap Kings, The Greyboy Allstars and Switchfoot.

Denson is a musician who can play for all generations and cultures. His blend of soul, rock, funk, blues and jazz is celebrated by musicians as varied as Warren Haynes, Lenny Kravitz, Michael Franti, The Allman Brothers and James Brown alum Fred Wesley.

"I've been doing this for 35 years," Denson said. "I got nothing else to do."

Karl Denson's Tiny Universe will play at Whiskey Jacques' on Friday, Feb. 26, at 10 p.m. Tickets are $20, available at the door. The show is part of the Marley in the Mountains music festival, which will continue on Saturday, Feb. 27.

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