Kenny Garrett | Sounds from the Ancestors
by Icrom Bigrad
Composer, saxophonist, and bandleader Kenny Garrett is releasing his album Sounds from the Ancestors. Garrett is joined by an extensive list of guest musicians for the multi-faceted album that goes past the jazz idiom with his unique, polyrhythmic, groove-laden, improv-heavy soundscapes that encompass the eight selections on Sounds from the Ancestor. Each composition occupies its own space with intellectual clarity, sonic ingenuity, and emotional heft. This album’s main inspiration is from Afro Cuban jazz, Yoruban chants and African drums, the Church, contemporary R&B, and hip-hop. Guest appearances include 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.
“It’s Time to Come Home” opens with an African-based drum groove. Garrett’s melody is simple and lyrical. Female vocalists join Garrett the second time through the form to alter the sound and add fullness. Garrett’s soloing has direction and a strong focus on melody and rhythmic development. The percussion adds another layer of rhythmic diversity; this song reflects Garrett’s time with the Cuban pianist and composer Chucho Valdés.
On “Hargrove,” Garrett brings in influences of R&B and hip hop is felt rather than explicitly stated, like many of the musical ingredients in Garrett’s musical mix. The song pays tribute to the late trumpeter and composer Roy Hargrove. The riff-based melody also has its repeating theme based in the Church too. Again, the added vocalization is given a sonic variance and quotes John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” Maurice Brown and Garrett have a very conversational improvised section that is wonderful to hear.
Sounds from the Ancestor celebrates the spirit of the sounds of African ancestors as Garrett looks to the past to find inspiration for his evolution of jazz sounds and feels. Sounds from the Ancestor is Garrett’s fifth album with Mack Avenue and one you will want to spend time getting to know.