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Kenny Garrett: Seeds of History

The alto saxophonist explores his musical and personal past

Kenny Garrett
Kenny Garrett

Kenny Garrett hasn’t released an album as a leader since 2008, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been busy. In recent years, Garrett lent his revered alto sound to two very high-profile touring acts: Chick Corea’s Freedom Band and the Five Peace Band led by Corea and guitarist John McLaughlin. Corea chose Garrett as the only other common member of the two groups, not only for his technical virtuosity but also because of his emotional intensity. “Kenny has always been just pure inspiration to me every time I hear him play,” Corea says. The two met more than 20 years ago, when Corea subbed for Garrett’s employer, Miles Davis, on a keytar. “Kenny is a searcher-always looking for new approaches, always finding new ways to extend an idea. He can take the whole band with him to other realms.”

On his new collection of original acoustic music, Seeds From the Underground (Mack Avenue), Garrett is bolstered by his working band and does plenty of searching, much of it through his own personal and musical history. Better than his previous effort, the live, Miles-themed Sketches of MD, Garrett digs deep on this bracing tribute to the people and places that forged his identity as a player. For the saxophonist, 51, old and new can easily coexist. “I think what was happening yesterday is pretty much what’s happening today,” says Garrett. “I don’t think it’s like a past and present thing.”

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