Dedicated to trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, who died last year, Kenny Garrett’s Do Your Dance! is an alluring celebration of the many ways music can make you move. These nine tracks, all Garrett originals, are deeply grounded in groove, and the different styles the album engages with allow the alto saxophonist to unfurl his full compositional range and instrumental dexterity.
Do Your Dance! kicks into high gear right from the jump with opening track “Philly,” where pianist Vernell Brown Jr.’s lushly romantic chords give way to Garrett stabbing out fast-break phrases over densely packed explosions from drummer Ronald Bruner Jr. Intense numbers, like the deep-in-the-pocket “Backyard Groove” and the light-footed, lightning-speed “Chasing the Wind,” find Garrett pushing his horn to its raw-throated sonic limits while providing a particularly vivid showcase for bassist Corcoran Holt, who navigates the relentless pace with intuitive agility.
Other tracks lock into vastly diverse shades of the album’s rhythm-intensive palette. “Bossa” serves up an airy Latin-tinged tempo, abetted by the popping percussion accents of Rudy Bird. Brown’s piano and drummer McClenty Hunter’s ticking shots are the perfect delicate backdrop for Garrett’s gently swaying gusts on “Calypso Chant,” and Hunter’s tumbling cymbals likewise bolster the dulcet cries of Garrett’s soprano horn on “Waltz (3 Sisters).”
The album is also unafraid to tap into more aggressive, confrontational notions of the dance. “Persian Steps” builds a potently eerie atmosphere through Brown’s hushed, near-robotic chanting and the inexorable drone of Garrett on shruti box, an accordion-style instrument from India (Garrett also plays piano and flute on this track). And both the title tune and the unsettled, fractured-prism figures of “Wheatgrass Shot (Straight to the Head)” are intensified by emphatic flows from MC Donald “Mista Enz” Brown Jr., son of longtime Garrett collaborator and Do Your Dance! co-producer Donald Sr.