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When it comes to getting a career head start in jazz, there can't be many better avenues to follow than teaming up with legendary trumpeter Miles Davis. Saxophonist Kenny Garrett was in his mid-twenties when he got the call from Davis and spent most of the next five years - up to Davis' death - going with Davis's late career flow of highly energized funk and hip-hop laced jazzy outgoings.
Almost two decades on, Garrett has paid tribute to his former mentor on an album called Sketches of MD recorded live at New York's Iridium club. More accurately, the new release reflects the efforts of some of the gifted sidemen who, like Garrett, reveled in supporting Davis over the years. Next week, Garrett will showcase the album here during a packed three-day, six-gig foray, along with bassist Kona Khasu, organ player Johnny Mercier and drummer Justin Brown.
Over the last quarter of a century, the now 48-year-old Garrett has made a name for himself for his high-energy output. So it comes as no surprise to learn that Sketches of MD pumps out its fair share of wattage. One of the former Davis sidemen who inspired the project was iconic saxophonist John Coltrane who was a mainstay of Davis's first great group in the late fifties before making a name for himself as one of the pioneers of free jazz in the sixties.
Garrett says he took the underlying vamp, or elongated tune development, feel of Coltrane's early work, as well as the similarly inclined efforts of the likes of pianist McCoy Tyner and saxophonist Pharaoh Saunders, and ran with them on Sketches of MD.
One thing's for sure, there won't be any lack of energy expended at the Garrett gigs here this week.
The Kenny Garret band performs at the Zappa Club in Tel Aviv and the Zappa Club in Herzliya on May 25-27 at 8 p.m. (doors open 7 p.m.) and 10:45 p.m. (doors open at 9:45 p.m.). For ticketing information call (03) 767-4646.