Kenny GarrettSounds from the AncestorsMack Avenue Records

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Kenny Garrett Recalls the Sounds ofWest African Music and its Role in Jazz,Gospel, Motown, Hip-Hop and More with
Sounds from the Ancestors
,Album Available August 27 via Mack Avenue Records
Kenny Garrett’s latest release, Sounds from the Ancestorsis a multi-faceted album. The music, however, doesn’t lodge inside the tight confines of the jazz idiom, which is not surprising considering the alto saxophonist and composer acknowledges the likes of Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye as significant touchstones. Similar to how Miles Davis’ seminal LP, On the Corner, subverted its main guiding lights – James Brown, Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone – then crafted its own unique, polyrhythmic, groove-laden, improv-heavy universe, Sounds from the Ancestors occupies its own space with intellectual clarity, sonic ingenuity and emotional heft. 

Sounds from the Ancestors examines the roots of West African music in the framework of jazz, gospel, Motown, hip-hop, and all other genres that have descended from jùjú and Yoruban music,” explains Garrett. “It’s crucial to acknowledge the ancestral roots in the sounds we’ve inhabited under the aesthetics of Western music.” 

Indeed, Sounds from the Ancestors reflects the rich jazz, R&B and gospel history of his hometown of Detroit. More important though, it also reverberates with a modern cosmopolitan vibrancy – notably the inclusion of music coming out of France, Cuba, Nigeria and Guadeloupe. 

“The concept initially was about trying to get some of the musical sounds that I remembered as a kid growing up – sounds that lift your spirit from people like John Coltrane, ‘A Love Supreme;’ Aretha Franklin, ‘Amazing Grace;’ Marvin Gaye, ‘What’s Going On;’ and the spiritual side of the church,” Garrett explains. “When I started to think about them, I realized it was the spirit from my ancestors.” 

The core ensemble for Sounds from the Ancestors consists of musicians that Garrett has recorded and toured with in recent past – pianist Vernell Brown, Jr., bassist Corcoran Holt, drummer Ronald Bruner and percussionist Rudy Bird. The album also features guest appearances from drummer Lenny White, pianist and organist Johnny Mercier, trumpeter Maurice Brown, conguero Pedrito Martinez, batá percussionist Dreiser Durruthy and singers Dwight Trible, Jean Baylor, Linny Smith, Chris Ashley Anthony and Sheherazade Holman. And on a couple of cuts, Garrett extends his instrumental palette by playing piano and singing. 

With his illustrious career that includes hallmark stints with Miles Davis, Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, Donald Byrd, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw and the Duke Ellington Orchestra, as well as a heralded career as a solo artist that began more than 30 years ago, Garrett is easily recognized as one of modern jazz’s brightest and most influential living masters. And with the marvelous Sounds from the Ancestors, the GRAMMY® Award-winning Garrett shows no signs of resting on his laurels.

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Upcoming Performances

September 3 – 4 | Jazz Kitchen | Indianapolis, IN
September 5 | Detroit Jazz Festival | Detroit, MI
September 9 – 12 | Blue Note | New York, NY
September 18 | Pittsburgh Jazz Festival | Pittsburgh, PA
September 19 | City Winery | Washington, DC
October 12 | La Cartonnerie | Reims, France
October 15 | Grande Salle de Château Rouge | Annemasse, France
October 19 | Espace Jean Legendre, Salle Ravel | Compiege, France
November 11 | Colsubsidio Theater | Bogota, Colombia
November 13 | Jazz Hall | Hamburg, Germany
November 14 | Sardegna Jazz Festival | Mogoro, Italy
November 16 | Blue Note | Milan, Italy
November 21 | Zaragoza Jazz Fest | Zaragoza, Spain
November 22 | Sala Barts | Barcelona, Spain
November 24 – 26 | Ronnie Scott’s | London, UK