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Portland Jazz Festival: A Celebration of ECM

Kenny Garrett

Jazz CD sales may be down but saxophonist Kenny Garrett’s career is on the upswing. During the three-year gap between his last Warner Brothers CD Standard of Language and his new Nonesuch release Beyond The Wall, Garrett continued an active touring schedule while also carving out time for travel to China to pursue cultural and spiritual studies. He recently kicked off his latest tour with a three-night, sold-out engagement at Blues Alley, accompanied by Benito Gonzales, piano; Kris Funn, bass; Jamire Williams, drums, and special guest saxophonist Pharoah Sanders.

Garrett and his rhythm section opened with an exhilarating 10-minute version of “Chief Blackwater.” It’s a good thing that the saxophonist uses a clip-on microphone; his bursting-at-the-seams solo, including quotes from Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, was performed while dipping, bowing and davening like the pious ones at the Wailing Wall. Funn and Williams turned up the heat and helped ignite several climaxes, prompting call-outs from the crowd.

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