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Shakin’ It Out with Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.

September 23rd, 2009 No comments
Karl Denson at the mich with trumpet player Chris Littlefield to his right.

Karl Denson at the mic, and trumpet player Chris Littlefield to his right.

Creativity springs to life when this band comes into action, which I can personally attest to, having had the pleasure to see them live at Milwaukee’s Turner Hall Ballroom, September 16th. It’s really this simple: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe is a must-see/hear for anyone who loves music. If you like to be moved by a performance–and by what you listen to, then you will seriously enjoy KDTU for the basic fact that you just can’t sit still. In fact, I recommend avoiding caffeinated beverages beforehand. And if you’re a fan of acid jazz, or fusion… well, chances are, you already know about them. Karl, himself, is a live wire on stage. Vibrant and energetic; he plays sax, the flute and the calabash, and, of course; he sings. And when he plays his sax–it’s as if he’s singing… you can almost hear the words. The Tiny Universe is a band of six musicians; each of which is deftly sound on his own, but together; they are the X-Men of music. Members are as follows: Denson (saxophone, flute), Ron Johnson (bass), Chris Littlefield (trumpet), Brian Jordan (guitar), David Veith (keyboards) and John Staten (drums). It’s clear that performing makes them happy. Their music is succinctly uplifting and invigorating, despite some of the indubitable blues tones, but on the other hand, that is why folks sing and play blues in the first place–to get rid of them. Speaking of the blues, KDTU offers a touch of the rich, West African sound (the name, “Farka TourĂ©” comes to mind); moreso, than Denson’s other band, The Grey Boy Allstars. From the newly released KTDU album, Brother’s Keeper, we start off with the big, Motown-sounding tune, Shake It Out, which is just slightly reminiscent of The Temps’ Get Ready; a perfect lead into the songs to follow, which range in tone from bluesy, sad and soulful to hot, jazzy-funk–or funky-jazz, depending on the track. And then some are just plain melodic, sweet and sexy, like Take It Down Low. To sum it up, pick it up. It’s well worth it.
Just for fun, here’s a little taste of the great Ali Farka Tourè:

And this beautiful piece by his son, Vieux, who is also amazing, live:

As the name suggests, several songs on Brother’s Keeper speak openly about faith, which for Mr. Denson is Christianity. The following quote is taken from his CD Jacket:

We who live in a free society often forget about the concept of being free. We begin to think of freedom as the natural state of mankind, when in reality our natural state is to dominate and be dominated. It is by an extraordinary blessing that we are being dominated by the very freedom we’ve created. We are now free to forget how we got here and how much it cost. Alongside the comfort that freedom provides is the ability/tendency to isolate and disconnect.

…Make a conscious effort to reconnect with the people around you. To sum it all up, ‘Love Your Neighbor As Yourself.’ Yes I’m My Brother’s Keeper!

Guitarist, Brian Jordan.

Guitarist, Brian Jordan.

John Staten on drums.

John Staten on drums.

In a recent blog I wrote about theme songs. I believe it’s good to have at least one. I definitely have more than one, but this is without a doubt, one of my favorites: KDTU’s Because of Her Beauty. Frankly, I’m surprised Nike hasn’t tried to snatch it up for a “Just Do It” TV spot. But then again, maybe they have. I listen to it when I go running… in my Adidas.

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