WBGO Radar

Kenny Garrett: Pushing The World Away

cover art for Kenny Garrett's CD Pushing The World Away

A few months back, at the memorial service for pianist Mulgrew Miller, saxophonist Kenny Garrett came to the front of the church and played a rendition of John Coltrane's "Dear Lord." I have never heard a saxophone cry like that.

Garrett pushed the world away for those moments to express what his dear friend of 30 plus years had meant to him.

So it is for someone of Garrett's nature: to take in life's experiences, good and bad, and express them musically in such a way to elicit similar feelings in the listener.

This is a rare gift, which Kenny has shared over the years in diverse settings, with The Duke Ellington Orchestra, The Mel Lewis Orchestra, Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Joe Henderson, Herbie Hancock, Woody Shaw, Chick Corea and on seventeen albums as a leader.

On "Pushing The World Away," Garrett combines tradition along with the energy of his progressive aesthetic for a journey through twelve tunes as a spirited followup to his double-Grammy nominated "Seeds From The Underground."

Pianist Benito Gonzalez, bassist Corcoran Holt and drummer Marcus Baylor join Garrett's alto to energize "A Side Order of Hijiki." It's not an homage to seaweed, but the description Mulgrew once gave to Kenny's playing style.

"Hey Chick" captures a Moroccan feel and a tune Kenny imagined as a Chick Corea workout. 

"Chucho's Mambo" has the Valdes vibe dancing nicely with the added percussion of Garrett's Miles Davis bandmate Rudy Bird and trumpeter Ravi Best.              

Bird, Holt, Gonzalez and drummer McClenty Hunter lay down a nice foundation for Garrett's alto to explore the gorgeous Burt Bacharach/Hal David melody "I Say A Little Prayer."  

For the past few years Kenny has started his tune crafting at the piano. On "Brother Brown," a nod to longtime friend, pianist and co-producer of this CD, Donald Brown, Kenny shares his piano feel beautifully, joining violin, viola and cello.

The closer, "Rotation," is all for one, featuring pianists Vernell Brown and Benito Gonzalez, drummers Mark Whitfield, Jr., Marcus Baylor and McClenty Hunter, bassist Holt and Garrett's alto in a fast-paced exchange which will certainly bring us back for more.

Once again, Kenny Garrett pushes the world away and pulls us closer to his exceptional musical vision of that world.

         - Gary Walker, WBGO music director

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